The Woman Who Was Not There

Jennie Melville

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04 June 2015
208 pages

Fanny Fanfairly has recently inherited an infamous Victorian brothel house in the centre of Windsor. The house is now rundown and empty, apart from the strange wax models - each striking an erotic pose - that inhabit every floor. And Fanny is convinced these models are moving all by themselves . . .

She asks her friend, high-ranking policewoman Charmian Daniels, for help. But Charmian has little time to ponder on the old woman's bizarre fears, for a London prostitute, Alicia Ellendale, has gone missing following a day trip to Windsor. Alicia has one very distinguishing feature - the stub of a sixth toe on her right foot.

A missing person case would not normally be Charmian's domain - but her bosses are getting twitchy because Alicia was last seen on her way to visit Frank Felyx, a recently retired detective inspector from their division. What's more, Frank is now refusing to open his door.

Charmian is given the unenviable task of finding the missing woman before the police are dragged into a messy case. And at some point she's still got to sort out the strange goings-on in Fanny's new house . . .

Then a young boy makes a gruesome discovery on the river bank at Runneymede - a shoe bearing a woman's severed foot . . .

Bravura brew of broomstick comedy and quite unguessable whodunit.

Matthew Coady - Guardian

An engaging read

Lincolnshire Echo