TP Fielden - Died and Gone to Devon
"There is a wit about the characterisation and dialogue..."
It is 1959, in the small holiday resort of Temple Regis in Devon. Judy Dimont is the chief reporter in the local paper, the Riviera Express. However, she is also a successful amateur detective, and her friend Geraldine Phelps asks her to investigate the death of Pansy Westerham - or was it murder? - many years ago. Though it was a death that may have involved the royal family, Judy has more important things on her mind.
To begin with, there may have been a suspicious death in the local library, and an election is pending. Sir Freddy Hungerford, the sitting MP, is retiring (hopefully to get a seat in the House of Lords), and is being replaced as a candidate by Mirabel Clifford. Then there is the problem of David Renishaw, who has joined the reporting staff of the Riviera Express, and is proving to be the newspaper's star reporter. But is there something fishy about him?
Another murder takes place, this time at the top of Temple Regis lighthouse, And then a third. Temple Regis is becoming known as 'the murder capital of England', something Inspector Topham, Temple Regis's top cop, resents.
As the story unfold, it takes in an irate professor who bears a grudge of some kind against Sir Freddy, and a tantalising connection between Pansy Westerham, a royal lover, and Temple Regis.
This is the fourth book in a series about Judy Dimont, ace reporter. TP Fielden is, in real life, Christopher Wilson, Fleet Street journalist, TV producer and an expert on the environment. To call it a 'cosy' would be far too easy, though it is an easy read. There is a wit about the characterisation and dialogue, and Fielden's portrayal of Fanny Craddock had me chuckling. The ambience of the reporters' room in a newspaper, with its jealousies, its Underwood typewriters, its disagreements with the editor and its quest for 'scoops' is accurate, even though, being a Scotsman and au fait with Glasgow, the accent of John Ross owes more to Private Fraser from Dad's Army than it does to a citizen of Glasgow, who would say 'ye know' rather than 'ye ken'. But that's a minor point.
Judy is middle-aged, talented, intuitive and resourceful, though she has her insecurities. The plot is well worked out, and the writing is clear and crisp, as is the dialogue. It won't tax you unduly, and offers lots of entertainment.
Reviewed by: J.G.