The Sculthorpe Murder by Karen Charlton The Sculthorpe Murder by Karen Charlton
Narrator: Michael Page
Series: Detective Lavender Mysteries #3
Published by Brilliance Audio on August 30, 2016
Source: Purchased
Genres: Historical Mystery
Length: 9 hrs 37 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Northamptonshire, 1810: As a new canal network snakes across the landscape, a vicious mob stakes its claim to the county. Every local constable is out on the hunt for the ruthless Panther Gang. When an elderly man is robbed and murdered in sleepy Middleton, the beleaguered magistrates send for help from London’s Bow Street Police Office.

Detective Stephen Lavender and Constable Ned Woods soon discover there’s more to William Sculthorpe’s demise than meets the eye. Mystery surrounds the old man and his family, and the stench of revenge hangs heavy in the air. Are the Panther Gang really responsible or is something more sinister afoot? As Lavender delves further into long-hidden secrets, Woods has demons of his own to contend with: ghosts from his past that stalk him through the investigation.

Uncovering decades of simmering hatred and deceit, Lavender and Woods must use all their wit and cunning to solve this evil crime.

I enjoyed The Sculthorpe Murder so much more than #2 in the series. Lavender and Woods are sent out of London to Northamptonshire to investigate the killing of an elderly man, presumably by a gang that has been terrorizing the area. I like that the trip takes Lavender away from his love interest. I really can only stand them as a couple for short periods of time.

The plot was well-done with a good array of suspects and clues. I like that Lavender doesn’t take things for granted and as an outsider can be more suspicious of certain people than the locals are.

Wood gets a lot of screen time in this one, which I appreciated. He’s a good, kind man and I liked his interactions with                                           . (Don’t want to give anything away.) He tends to put people, including children at ease. Lavender, on the other hand, tends to make people a bit uncomfortable. He’s the thinker where Woods is the talker. Together they make a good team.

The secondary characters are all a bit shady, actually. Most, if not all, have their secrets, some more criminal than others. I do think the ending was appropriate, although perhaps not in the typical, wrap it up, punish the guilty way.

I listened to the audio and the narrator does a good job with the varied characters. He disappears into the story, which is what I’m looking for.

The Sculthorpe Murder is a solid historical mystery. It feels like the details are well done – whether they actually are or not I can’t judge, I’m assuming they are. In this one, I especially found the conflict between the Catholics and Church of England interesting. I’m not a history buff, I admit, but I do enjoy it when bits are thrown into the stories I’m reading. Once in a while, they even make me want to learn more about the subject.

I’m actually looking forward to the next in the series, although I hope it doesn’t get taken over by Lavender’s marriage.

About Karen Charlton

Karen Charlton writes historical mystery and is also the author of a nonfiction genealogy book, ‘Seeking Our Eagle.’ She has published short stories and numerous articles and reviews in newspapers and magazines. An English graduate and ex-teacher, Karen has led writing workshops and has spoken at a series of literary events across the North of England, where she lives. Karen now writes full-time.

A stalwart of the village pub quiz and a member of a winning team on the BBC quiz show ‘Eggheads’, Karen also enjoys the theatre, and she won a Yorkshire Tourist Board award for her Murder Mystery Weekends.

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