About the book, Death at Crookham Hall
- Publisher : Boldwood Books (January 18, 2023)
- Publication date : January 18, 2023
- Language : English
- Print Length: 319 Pages
A fatal jump. A missing suffragette. An inexplicable murder.
London, 1920. When she catches news of a big story, reporter Iris Woodmore rushes to the House of Commons. But it’s a place that holds painful memories. In 1914, her mother died there when she fell into the River Thames during a daring suffragette protest. But in the shadow of Big Ben, a waterman tells Iris her mother didn’t fall – she jumped.
Iris discovers that the suffragette with her mother that fateful day has been missing for years, disappearing just after the protest. Desperate to know the truth behind the fatal jump, Iris’s investigation leads her to Crookham Hall, an ancestral home where secrets and lies lead to murder…
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About the author, Michelle Salter
Michelle Salter is a historical crime fiction writer based in northeast Hampshire. Many local locations appear in her mystery novels. She’s also a copywriter and has written features for national magazines. When she’s not writing, Michelle can be found knee-deep in mud at her local nature reserve. She enjoys working with a team of volunteers undertaking conservation activities.
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I love a good mystery, and I love a good period mystery even more, and if there’s a feminist theme running through it so much the better. Death at Crookham Hall is all three of these, and I enjoyed the author’s crisp prose and 1920s London setting very much. As an American, my only real reference to the women’s suffrage movement in England is limited to fictional media like Mary Poppins and Downton Abbey, so I can’t speak to whether the history depicted was accurate, but the emotional truths of the story rang true.
This book is marketed as the first Iris Woodmore mystery. Like many protagonists in cozy mysteries, Iris plays amateur detective throughout the novel, but it’s a conceit of the genre, and far more plausible for a journalist covering politics than, say, a cafe owner or bookseller (referencing two of my favorite contemporary cozy series). I liked that we saw her on the job first, and diving into the mystery – one with very personal connections, as it revolved around the apparent suicide of her own mother several years before.
I really appreciated that the titual Crookham Hall was almost a character in its own right, as old buildings tend to be, especially when they serve as a focal point for a story. Author Michelle Salter’s eye for details really sang in the descriptions of this and other locations. At one point I had to remind myself that smoking was common behavior in the 1920s, and that even today Europeans smoke far more than Americans seems to. (At least in my experience.)
I also liked that we got a glimpse into what it was like to be one of those trailblazing women who were among the first in Parliament. Specifically, the commentary about how what they wore often got more attention than that they said really struck me. (Sadly, the way media portrays women in politics has not changed appreciably in either of our countries since then. )
Part mystery, part courtroom drama, part period study, part cultural commentary, this novel was a rich and rewarding read. I hope to follow Iris Woodmore as her life and career develop. I’ll definitely read more of Michelle Salter’s work.
Goes well with: a glass of perfectly chilled champagne.
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