Who would believe that an innocent walking trip in the tranquil English Cotswolds could include not just one murder but three, as well as any number of hair-raising adventures? The intrepid American heroine of WALKING INTO MURDER, Professor Laura Morland, would have scoffed at the idea. All she wanted was a few days of peace to recover from a humiliating (if not entirely unwelcome) divorce and a chance to test her new independence. That she ...
Who would believe that an innocent walking trip in the tranquil English Cotswolds could include not just one murder but three, as well as any number of hair-raising adventures? The intrepid American heroine of WALKING INTO MURDER, Professor Laura Morland, would have scoffed at the idea. All she wanted was a few days of peace to recover from a humiliating (if not entirely unwelcome) divorce and a chance to test her new independence. That she most certainly does; peace is another matter.
WALKING INTO MURDER is a light-hearted mystery with an intriguing plot, a strong setting and distinctive characters headed by Laura Morland, a wonderfully appealing new amateur detective. It is part traditional English mystery, part middle-aged female sleuth of independent spirit who solves mysteries that confound the experts, part primer on the battle between the sexes since Laura is an expert on gender. Laura is hardly Miss Marple: she is younger, far more active and attractive and even romantically inclined, does not knit or admit to white hairs, but the settings are very British indeed, as are the eccentric characters around her.
It’s a wonderful read. Spine-tingling escapes and confrontations on deserted moors contrast with tranquil interludes in England's quaintest villages and most verdant countryside - and with near-comic scenes of Laura's inept but ultimately successful efforts to track down the villains even as she eludes their clutches. Amateur theatrics, mask-making, underground tunnels and an escape from a boarded-up cottage are all part of the action.
The adventure begins when Laura is invited to teach a seminar on gender in London. First, she decides to embark on a solo walking trip along the Cotswold Way. Her walk soon takes stormy turns. A man plummets out of the thick mist enveloping the area, hauls her into an embrace and begs her to masquerade as his wife. Escorted at gunpoint by an aristocratic Englishman to an ancient manor house, she is confronted by a roomful of eccentrics, any of whom could have killed the woman Laura finds in the bedroom. Worse, the body perversely keeps changing its identity. In fact, everyone in this bizarre household seems to have multiple identities and multiple motivations, making it exceedingly difficult to determine who is telling the truth and even harder to ascertain who is on Laura's side.
Curiosity is Laura's dominant trait and she delves into the mystery with possibly unwise abandon. She is determined to unmask the murderer - and to get the best of her alternately charming and irritating and ever-baffling would-be husband, to whom she is undeniably attracted. She soon discovers that her fund of knowledge about male/female relationships throughout history isn’t much help in dealing with a man who never answers questions, appears to be having a steamy affair with the titled Lady of the house, and who increasingly seems the most likely candidate for murderer. Complicating matters is the puzzle of his fraught relationship with Laura's able assistant in crime-detection, a fiery, free-spirited runaway from Virginia who lives in the woods.
As Laura probes deeper, the efforts of the villains to silence her become more frantic and her strategies to evade them more ingenious. With total disregard for the escalating danger, she vows to outwit them all. And she does. In a final dramatic - and totally unexpected - scene, she zeroes in on the killer, or it might be more accurate to say the murderer zeroes in on her.
great dective story following the traditions of agatha christie and famous five. the heroine is on a walking tour of the cotswalds and finds herself embroilded in a mystery involving murder forgery danger romance and secret passages. great read at a very affordable price.
What a fast paced, fun read. The story starts as richly textured and mild, like England's Cotswolds, but soon develops real intrigue. The plot thickens a bit at a time, as the characters grow more and more engaging. A dose of uncertainty here, a doubt that something is as it appears, subtle clues from unlikely places. Once I was fully absorbed and confident in my views of the settings, the motives and the likely culprits, the rug was pulled out entirely. A Completely satisfying read.
WALKING INTO MURDER is superb storytelling. Laura Morland is a middle-aged American professor on a walking tour of the English Cotswolds. She soon becomes involved in mystery, murder, and a cast of characters who are classic British eccentrics. It's impossible to know who to trust. Everybody seems suspect in this complex and exciting tale. The author keeps us guessing until the very end. The denouement will surprise even the most experienced mystery reader! This is a solid 5 star effort.
Joan Dahr Lambert is an academic who accidentally became a novelist when she set out to write her first book. Intended as a non-fiction account of female contributions to human evolution (about which she knows a great deal), it mysteriously transformed itself into a novel as words and scenes appeared in her mind. That was CIRCLES OF STONE (Simon& Schuster 1997), and she has never looked back. Since then she has written two other books in the Mother People Series: CIRCLES IN THE SKY, which takes up the story at the same point that CIRCLES OF STONE ends, has just been published as an e-book. The third book, ICE BURIAL, the story of the 5,000 year old Iceman discovered as glaciers melted in Italy, will soon follow.
On a lighter note, Lambert also writes British-style mysteries. Books One and Two in the series, WALKING INTO MURDER and WADING INTO MURDER, introduce Professor Laura Morland, an irrepressible sleuth with a love of adventure, an impetuous nature, and a tendency to be in the wrong place at the right time - all traits that land her in unusual and often dangerous situations as she pursues her love of walking in England and other parts of Europe. It is no accident that Laura goes on walking trips; so does her author. Nor is it accidental that Laura is a professor of Gender Studies. Lambert has studied gender issues for more than thirty years.
Book Three in the series, SKIING INTO MURDER, which will appear as an e-book in 2012, continues Laura's adventures, this time on skis (a skill she also enjoys but at which she feels singularly inept) in the famous towns of Zermatt and Murren in Switzerland. Book Four, as yet unnamed, will return to England, this time in Cornwall; Book Five will take place in Norway.
Speaking as myself, writing these mysteries has been one of the most joyous occupations I could ever have imagined. It is FUN! Hard work, harder than a prehistoric novel because mysteries have to be so tightly plotted and one has to keep track of what is in every person's head at any given moment - no mean feat, I discovered. Mysteries also provide a way to talk about some of my passions - like forced child prostitution - while maintaining a light-hearted tone. That's a challenge, and I like it. I also hope that by addressing these problems in an entertaining way, I can make more people aware of their existence and the need to address them.