Monday 15 February 2021

Guest Review: A Fatal Mistake by Faith Martin

Summer 1960, Oxford

In the glorious sunshine of Oxford, on a day when everyone should be celebrating, tragedy strikes when a university student is found floating in the river, dead.

Probationary WPC Trudy Loveday finds herself paired with coroner Clement Ryder to investigate and it soon becomes clear that this case is not going to be easy.

The witnesses all refuse to give a straight answer, each new lead sends them in a new direction and tales of other missing youngsters add further mystery to the investigation.

One thing is certain though, something doesn’t seem quite right about the university’s most popular student….

Review: This is book 2 in the Ryder and Loveday series by this author, in which Oxford coroner Clement Ryder joins forces with probationary WPC Trudy Loveday to investigate suspicious deaths. The books are set in the 1960s, when the role of women in the British police force was very different from what it is in present times. Although this book is part of a series, it can easily be read as a standalone.

In this story, the coroner suspects that the drowning of a university student that appears to be a tragic accident could be far from that. When the inquest ends with an open verdict, Dr Ryder jumps at the chance to investigate further, and again requests the help of Trudy Loveday. As they delve into the evidence presented by people acquainted with the dead man and anyone in the area at the time the body was discovered, a picture of the victim emerges. Possible connections between him and both a missing girl and another girl who committed suicide come to light. What they uncover is shocking to everyone involved.

I thought this was another excellent mystery in this series of books. The writer wove quite a web for the reader to attempt to untangle, with many red herrings along the way. There is quite a cast of characters, many of whom seem to have had cause to murder the victim, and many of whom are extremely unlikable. It was nice to see the relationship between Ryder and Trudy developing beyond professional towards friendship and to see Trudy gaining more confidence. I shall certainly be looking out for the next book in this series.

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