Colin and Shirley team up to investigate the case. Spiky history don, Victoria Nettlebed, suggests the mystery may lie a century earlier in the life of an Australian gold prospector… and the death of his partner.
But does Nettlebed know more than she’s telling? And why did cockney metals trader Lionel Bruce meet Birtwhistle days before his death?
Shirley wants Colin to track down her long-lost relatives. But more murders bring the threat closer to home. The pair tangle with London East End gangsters, an eccentric Scottish lord, and a team of women cricketers in their hunt for the truth.
There are laughs alongside the action as Colin and Shirley uncover the shocking secrets of the family tree. And Shirley has one last surprise for Colin.
I always look forward to picking up a Colin Crampton mystery, Peter's writing is so warm and inviting that it makes me feel like my best friend is telling me a really interesting story. The setting of the 60's, as I have said before and will say again is a character all by itself. It's not in your face, but it's so natural and it doesn't feel forced when people use things that were normal in that era. Solving mysteries took skill, patience and time, there was no nipping on google or sending a quick email. Agood phone voice was definitely an asset.
Colin and Shirley are so cute and I really enjoy their relationship as it evolves through the story an across the books. Shirley is so strong and independant, but she needs Colin in her own way. Colin, always the awkward charmer will do anything for her. Maybe the mysteries should now be Crampton and Goldsmith mysteries? The additional characters in The Family Tree Mystery all have wonderfully wacky, but realistic names as always and their character development is on point, even when they are only smaller supporting characters.
The plot and murders are done with the usual class and don't take away from the cosy tone of the story. It had me guessing a long time with the clever writing. The final plot reveal made me squeal so loud. Long time readers of the Crampton mysteries will be very, very happy!
I fully loved reading Peter Bartram's newest mystery and as always I will eagerly wait in anticipation for the next in the series!
I gave this book a big 5 stars.
days. First, one of his girlfriend’s relatives was murdered.
Then his news editor has been on his back for more scoops.
And, finally, when he arrives back at his lodgings, his
landlady, Beatrice “the Widow” Gribble, wants a big favour.
Now read on…
It was almost midnight by the time I arrived back at my
I had a suite of rooms on the top floor of a house in
Regency Square. “Suite” sounds a bit posh. There was a small
sitting room with squeaky floorboards. There was a bathroom
where the cold tap dripped. And there was a bedroom tucked
under the eaves, where I lie awake at night listening to the
seagulls scrabbling around on the roof.
The place was presided over by Mrs Beatrice Gribble, known
to her tenants (behind her back) as the Widow. Her husband
Hector had expired, probably from boredom, a few years
earlier. There was a photo of him on the mantelpiece in the
Widow’s parlour. He looked like he wanted nothing so much as
the earth to swallow him up.
After Hector’s death, the Widow was faced with keeping a
five-storey house going without any income. So reluctantly,
she turned to the landlady game. She got her own back by
making her tenants’ lives a constant battle for sanity – not
least in my case.
I inserted my key in the lock and turned it silently. As I
opened the front door, I applied a well-practised upward force
to the handle to stop the hinges creaking. I closed the door
behind me and crept towards the stairs.
I had my foot on the first tread when the Widow shot out of
her parlour. She was wearing a royal-blue quilted dressing
gown that came down to her ankles and pink pom-pom slippers.
She’d put her hair in curlers under some sort of net
arrangement. She’d smothered white cream on her face so she
looked like the lead in The Ghost and Mrs Muir. On second
thoughts, perhaps not. In the film, the ghost was played by
Rex Harrison wearing a full beard. The Widow only had a thin
moustache along her upper lip.
She said in the ingratiating tone she usually saved for
titled ladies and bank managers: “Mr Crampton, you’re a man of
I said: “Actually, I’m an alien from Mars and I’m just
going back to my mother ship to sleep.”
The Widow’s face cracked into what may have been a smile.
“You know I don’t have aliens here. Or travelling salesmen.”
“I thought we were missing something good.”
“Can you spare a minute?”
“As days on Mars are thirty-nine minutes longer than Earth,
I suppose I might manage one.”
It was usually quicker to let the Widow have her say.
The Widow said: “My cousin Christine in Solihull has passed
“You’d told me before she was moving to Cleethorpes.”
“She’s been called to a higher place.”
“Mr Crampton, Christine is dead.”
“She’ll have to cancel the Cleethorpes move, then.”
“And now there are arguments about who should inherit her
portrait of Lady Amelia Fogge? It’s by that artist who sounds
as though he was in the army. Corporal, was it?”
“Do you mean Sargent?”
“Yes, I think he was the brush twiddler.”
John Singer Sargent was more than a brush twiddler. He’d
been a top player in the paint-your-portrait game. Everybody
who was anybody in Edwardian society at the turn of the
century had their ugly mug slapped on a canvas by Sargent in
his finest oils. Now he was long dead, a decent portrait by
him could easily sell for twenty or thirty thousand pounds. No
wonder the Widow wanted to get her grubby fingers on it.
I said: “Surely, Christine’s will sets out who gets the
“She didn’t have a will.”
“She died intestate?”
“No, in a nursing home.”
“If there’s no will, her goods and chattels go to her next
of kin. Is that you?”
“It could be.”
“What relation were you to Christine?”
“Sort of a cousin.”
“The sort that couldn’t stand her. She always had her nose
stuck in the air. The type that thinks she’s better than
“You didn’t like her but you want her picture,” I said.
“Isn’t that just a teensy-weensy bit hypocritical?”
“I didn’t say I didn’t like the picture.”
I shrugged. “Well, I can’t see why you need my help.”
“Because Christine kept the picture in a vault. A bank
vault. I rang up the bank manager today, but he wouldn’t let
me have it. I want you to write him a letter. On my behalf.”
“Much better you do it yourself.”
“I wouldn’t know what to say – how to put it right. You
have a way with words.”
The Widow gave me a big blousy wink. “There’d be something
in it for you,” she said. “That new rug for your bedroom
you’ve been going on about.”
I staged a long yawn to show how unimpressed I was. “I’ll
think about it,” I said.
I powered up the stairs. Behind me, I heard the Widow slam
the door to her parlour.
* The Family Tree Mystery, book 7 in the Deadline Murder
series, by Peter Bartram, is available as a paperback (£8.99)
or e-book for Kindle (£2.99 until 31 December, then £4.99)
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