The Calton Papers

Written by Norman Russell
Review by Ann Northfield

Opening at an auction in May 1894, characters and plot are quickly established and the reader drawn into the story. The importance of the auction is not revealed until much later as the action switches to the main characters – the aristocratic Waldegrave family and the self-made Jeremy Beecham, who is about to marry into it. Conflicts and problems arise as Sir Arthur Waldegrave, the heir to the vast estate, is found murdered by cyanide poisoning, raising memories and giving rise to gossip regarding the unsolved murder of Jeremy Beecham`s uncle who died in the same way, leaving all his money to his nephew. Now Inspector Jackson must find the method and the motive and so discover the murderer.

This novel has interesting characters and the story is entertaining enough to keep the pages turning without being startlingly original or profoundly memorable. It touches on ideas of class, the position of servants and police at the time and gives a good flavour of the era. Although there have been other books featuring Inspector Jackson, it is fine as a stand-alone read. Overall, this is a pleasant undemanding read which will certainly satisfy the fans of Russell`s other fourteen novels.