Wednesday 3 March 2021

Guest Review: A Fatal Flaw by Faith Martin

Oxford, 1960

As the city of Oxford prepares itself for the inaugural Miss Oxford Honey Beauty Pageant at The Old Swan Theatre, excitement is in the air.

Then, tragedy strikes the competition when one of the leading contestants is found dead.

Initially, the authorities assume her death was suicide. But after a malicious series of pranks and blackmail attempts are reported, WPC Loveday and Coroner Clement Ryder are called upon to solve the case.

In an atmosphere of fierce competition, the list of suspects is endless. Could what have started as harmless fun become a deadly race to win the prize?

With time running out, the duo need to spot the killer before tragedy strikes again…

Review: This is book 3 in a series of murder mysteries in which Oxford city coroner Clement Ryder joins forces with WPC Trudy Loveday to investigate cases of suspicious death. The books are all set in and around Oxford in 1960s, and all the stories can be read as standalones.

In this case, the duo becomes involved with the mysterious death of one of the contestants in a beauty pageant being run by a local business man. At the inquest, the jury records an open verdict, allowing Dr Ryder and Trudy to pursue their investigations into what could have been a suicide or a murder. At the same time, there is a series of incidents in the theatre where the pageant is to take place, increasing suspicion that this could be a case of foul play. The pair of investigators are drawn into the world of beauty and fashion as they take undercover roles in the pageant and come to understand what a dangerous case this is.

I really enjoyed this mystery. There were so many twists and turns to the story that I was unsure whether they would ever manage to unearth the truth before somebody else was murdered, and, indeed, whether Dr Ryder or Trudy might come to harm. The clues to the identity of the perpetrator were set out so skilfully that I couldn’t decide who it might be. Definitely a good ‘whodunnit’. I am enjoying this series and watching as the professional and personal relationship between the police constable and the coroner develops. Dr Ryder pays Trudy the respect that is lacking in her colleagues in the police force. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

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