Dead Set

Jennie Melville

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04 June 2015
234 pages

On the whole, Charmian Daniels felt that her life was going well. She was enjoying the seniority that a recent promotion had brought to her career. If she had one complaint, it was that her new position made it difficult to do any 'real' police work. But the shocking murder of a teenaged schoolgirl was soon to change all that . . .

Intrigued by the apparent lack of motive for Louise Farmer's killing, and by the disappearance of Ted Gray, the man who found her body, Charmian decides to investigate. So she visits Ted's wife, Una, but what she discovers about him hardly adds up to a person capable of cold-blooded murder.

Meanwhile, news has started to filter through of some strange goings-on at the school where Ted and Una used to work. A young pupil, Pix Prescott, has been unsettling his classmates with hysterical tales of 'double people'. Could Pix's terror simply be put down to the imaginings of an eight-year-old mind?

Charmian is convinced that Ted Gray holds the key to the mystery of who killed Louise Farmer and why. But until she finds out more about him she is powerless to stop the ripples of violence from spreading still further, powerless to prevent another death . . .

Puzzles galore, which Melville plants out her inimitable fashion, taunting the reader with glimpses of behaviour concealed from Charmian, trailing her herrings with a whispering difference.

John Coleman - Sunday Times