The Ebenezer Papers

Written by Dawn Harris
Review by A. J. Mackenzie

The Ebenezer Papers is an enjoyable and entertaining read pretty much from start to finish. Set in 1930s London, against a background of increasing political uncertainty and threats of war, Dawn Harris’s story begins with the murder of a young man shot dead at his own front door. The police, led by Detective Inspector Nabber (possibly not the best choice of name for what is a serious and at times dark story), are baffled by the case. But the narrator of the story, Liddy, has her own theory and sets out to follow it.

Liddy is a likeable heroine. The wealthy widow of a First World War flying ace and hero, she comes across as savvy and courageous. She spends perhaps a little too much time reflecting on her emotions, and at times this feels a bit unrealistic, but otherwise she is well drawn. Her sidekick is her chauffeur Al – a little homage to Gladys Mitchell’s Mrs Bradley mysteries perhaps? – and he too is a nicely paced character who does what good sidekicks should do and doesn’t intrude too much into the story.

The plot is excellent and sometimes goes off in surprising directions. The dialogue is well written, and the reader can hear the voices of the characters clearly. The atmosphere of 1930s England is well done, complete with political tensions, menacing Nazi spies, and sympathisers; at times there are echoes of Bulldog Drummond.

The physical book is not of the best quality; the layout is slightly cramped in places, the paper is quite thin, and the binding had disintegrated by the time the book was read. But if you do not mind holding a few loose pages in place, buy and read this book. If this were to become a series, I would happily read another.