Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Widow's Secret by Brian Thompson

The blurb describes the main character, Bella Wallis as 'charismatic'. My impression of Bella was far from that, in fact she was extremely unlikeable, acerbic, unsympathetic, subject to irrational, sometimes violent rages, and downright cruel in her method of fictionising crimes into her sensational novels. She doesn't exhibit a need for justice so much as a cruel streak, and a vicarious pleasure in vigilante justice which makes her a good living.

Some of her character is explained by the fact Bella's husband died leaving her to discover the existence of a mistress. Unable to confront or punish him, she embarks on a lesbian relationship with the French Marie Claude, who is moody, discontent and constantly on the verge of tears. Hardly a relationship, more a penance.

Bella proceeds to take her anger out on men in general, leading them on, then when bored, discards them. She sets her cohorts, Quigley and Murch off on a trail of destruction, rejecting them if they do something which upsets her sensibilities, but happy to stand by and let them create havoc.

The author's writing style is fast paced and eloquent, but littered with cryptic conversations among characters who have historic relationships and backgrounds I was left to guess at -  so concentration is required to work out what is going on - and why. The ending is murky in that the 'good guys' don't win and the villains don't face the consequences of their actions - not in a socially acceptable way at least.

The novel isn't bad so much as confusing, though as a cozy mystery it doesn't conform to the formula.

Anita Davison also writes as Anita Seymour, her 17th Century novel ‘Royalist Rebel’ was released by Pen and Sword Books, and she has two novels in The Woulfes of Loxsbeare series due for release in late 2014 from Books We Love. Her latest venture is an Edwardian cozy mystery being released next year by Robert Hale.

TWITTER: @AnitaSDavison

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