Monday, October 17, 2016

Review of Season of Darkness by Maureen Jennings (Titan, 2011)

1940 and the phoney war is over and the Battle of Britain is on-going.  A vivacious land girl is found by the side of a Shropshire road, shot in the head, white poppies placed on her chest.  Detective Inspector Tom Tyler is in charge of the investigation.  Suspicion immediately falls on the nearby Prees Heath internment camp which houses many German nationals.  However, most of its residents have little sympathy for their homeland having fled from the Nazis and some offer to aid the detective, such as an eminent psychoanalyst.  In addition to trying to solve the case Tyler has a number of family issues, such as a failing marriage, a distant son who survived Dunkirk, and a sixteen year old daughter who dislikes working for her grandfather who is trading on the black market. And to top it off his first love has reappeared, working as a translator in the camp after living on the continent for the previous twenty years.  When a second land girl disappears it’s clear that there’s a sinister force at work in the area.

Season of Darkness is a historical police procedural set in rural Shropshire in 1940.  Detective Tom Tyler is in charge of an investigation into the murder of a land girl – a working class Londoner who has moved to the area to help work on local farms.  The girl was known to be a flirt and possesses money in-excess of her salary.  Shortly after her friend also disappears while taking a short cut to a church service.  While some suspect their deaths are the work of a German parachutist, others suspect the nearby Prees Heath internment camp that houses German nations, though Tyler does not rule out the possibility that the killer is a local.  Along with his small team, Tyler tries to gather evidence and clues while also dealing with complications in his home and personal life.  Although at times overly descriptive, the story was engaging and interesting up until about two thirds through, then the plot started to unravel and too many elements did not add up or make sense. In the main these elements or plot devices seem to for the sake of melodrama and trying to add action and tension and are difficult to discuss without giving plot spoilers, but needless to say I rapidly lost faith in the story.  Which was a shame; instead of wanting to read on to get to the end, I struggled to the conclusion becoming ever more disillusioned with the clunky plot. 

No comments: