Murder In A Parish Chest: Peggy Pinch Investigates
This is the second in a crime series set in a village in the South of England in the era between the two world wars. Peggy Pinch, young wife of the somewhat older village constable, must discover who killed Cedar Wells, felled in the street by a stone. The female Cedar had been living as man called Cyril, and pestering virile young Tug Macaulay, who was heard to threaten Cyril. Constable Pinch is convinced that Tug is the killer but his wife knows otherwise – she has unwittingly provided Tug with an alibi by succumbing to curiosity and creeping into his bedroom whilst he slept – and decides she must find the killer and exonerate Tug.
This novel gives a good sense of the period: Peggy is resourceful and has better intuition than her husband but she must tread carefully and not appear to subvert his authority. When a senior officer arrives at their house to discuss the case she serves tea but must then leave the room – talking about crime is for men. Whilst the heroines of some historical crime novels seem to be modern women in costume, Peggy Pinch really does belong in an isolated country village of the 1920s. Despite her reverence to “Pinch”, Peggy’s tendency to behave unpredictably and rather mischievously, especially in her interactions with some of the village’s more eccentric characters, kept this reader’s interest.
I hadn’t read the first in the series but the sequel can be read as a stand-alone, it will be interesting to see how the character develops in any sequels.