Cover Up

Written by Patricia Hall
Review by Wendy Zollo

It’s 1964, and London Detective Sargent Harry Barnard is assigned to investigate the murder of an alleged prostitute, whose appearance and circumstance are at odds with the shoddiness of the typical Soho “tart.” Her identity remains a puzzling mystery that Barnard relentlessly pursues.

Kate O’Donnell, Harry’s Catholic photojournalist girlfriend, lands a magazine assignment covering the regeneration of her hometown, Liverpool, from the effects of the war and to cursorily report on the premiere of the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night movie. With their relationship in choppy waters, Harry and Kate meet up in Liverpool, where the chaos that is Kate’s family uncovers some unexpected connections to Harry’s investigation.

Hall’s writing clearly echoes the truth of the era, the assumptions related to appearance, the overbearing presence of religion, and the rule of the parish priest over his community and the stigmas of sex and sin. While the mystery is layered in a predictable yet satisfying fashion, the tone and gradation of the atmosphere of the Sixties is the shining star of Cover Up. The realism of the obvious contradictions between faith and actions makes for a compelling read, as does the edgy, somewhat troubled and very appealing relationship of Harry and Kate.

A good read and a recommended one.