Peggy Pinch, Policeman’s Wife
Roll over, Miss Marple. This fantastic village whodunnit is packed with wagging tongues and local malice, and it takes someone born and bred to know the ways of the neighbours to work out how to save the day. Step forward Peggy Pinch, young, uncertain, and unhappily married to the much older village policeman, who quickly realizes she must solve the murder that has shocked every inhabitant of “The Street” if her husband’s job is to be saved.
It is 1926, in the shadow of the General Strike, and the body of Major Corquet, a farmer, has been found on the railway line. Scotland Yard’s investigation threatens to uncover parish scandals and gossip that may discredit PC Pinch. Peggy knows she and her husband risk not only being driven from the village where she has lived all her life, but also seeing the end of their marriage if she doesn’t get detecting.
With only a few uncertainties of copy editing (including a lot of variations on the name Jessie, Jessy, and Jesse), Malcolm Noble’s story is intricately plotted, suspenseful, darkly funny, and beautifully written, showing first the full extent of village viciousness, and then the inarticulate kindness that sometimes lies behind some of it, and leading the reader—and the Scotland Yard inspector—inexorably towards the clever denouement. I loved it. I will read more.