childhood home backs onto the mysterious Wychwood, an ancient
area of woodland in the Oxfordshire village of Wilsby-under-Wychwood.
Following the break-up with her partner and the loss of her
job in London she comes home to her mother to work things
out, and walks straight into a murder. A young woman has been
found dead just outside her house, and the body has been arranged
to mirror that of an old legend. The story of the Carrion
King, a local magician who held court here back in the 9th
century has been enjoying a revival thanks to a play, but
now it looks as though somebody is taking it further. Journalist
Elspeth is keen to investigate for herself.
The sub-genre of modern mysteries having roots in the past
has become popular of late, and if you are a fan of Kate Ellis,
Elly Griffiths and Sarah Rayne this new novel ought to appeal.
It has all the ingredients that make such a story entertaining
– a setting steeped in its past, a spooky legend, weird
murders and a pair of engaging sleuths. Elspeth freelances
for a local paper and meets up with childhood friend Peter
who has become a policeman; together the pair help solve the
case. I am not sure how much the police would relish having
an amateur along and Elspeth manages to see just about all
the bodies (quite a pile of these) but it does make for a
lively tale. I do hope that this is going to be the first
in a series as it holds its head up with the other novels
of this type and ticks all the relevant boxes. Highly readable
with a wonderful “legend” that would make for
a good book in itself; don’t miss this treat.