I think most readers would find this to be an oddly written story. The ebb and flow of life in a small English village with some really old-fashioned ways, is in itself an interesting subject. Then the writer throws in the brutal and bloody murders of a middle aged couple who were a little "off-beat." At the same time, we are reading about the childhood of the protagonist who happens to be the lead reporter for the town's small newspaper. The reader is led to believe there just might be a murder involved there somewhere, too. There is also a quirky neighbor lady who is writing a mystery novel and researching it by being a correspondent for said newspaper, which gives her the opportunity to have her nose in everything going on around the town.
The ending, although half expected, is still satisfying. This is a noir sort of book, very dark in spots, with a tiny bit of humor and a little insanity tossed into the mix. This just might be your cup of tea.
First Line: It was four days before the bodies were discovered, by which time Mr. Cowper had begun to mottle.
I'm not quite sure what I expected when I began reading this book. A cozy little mystery involving an amateur sleuth in a picture postcard English village, I think.
I got a lot more than I bargained for.
Alison Akenside is the chief reporter for the Rutland Record. Unfortunately she lives in Nether Bowston, a village in which nothing ever happens. At the beginning of An English Murder, Alison is a compassionate young woman who wants her "big break" into the dailies of London. She feels sad when she realizes that she was in her garden tending her flowers while the bodies of her neighbors, Thomas and Edith Cowper, were lying in their home a few doors down.
Not only were the Cowpers murdered, but their teen aged daughter Gemma has gone missing, and Alison begins to think that this murder case is her ticket to London. If she can scoop everyone else, find Gemma and learn the identity of the murderer, she's a shoo-in for bigger and better things.
While Alison ponders how to win her brass ring, we learn about her background and that of the missing girl. We're also treated to a little history about Rutland, which in the 1970s had lost its county status and become a part of Leicestershire, only to regain it in the late 1990s:
"It was mentioned in the Domesday Book, she discovered-- which seemed very fin de siecle-- although at that time it was little more than a ditch on the way to Northumbria. It was always being bequeathed to people-- queens, dukes, mistresses-- as if the county and its people were an expensive lapdog."
But as we're learning more about Rutland and as we're learning about Gemma and Alison, the tone of the book subtly begins to shift. Something nasty, unpleasant and psychologically unbalanced begins to stir in Nether Bowston, and An English Murder turns into Cozy Noir.
Some people may not like Doughty's book, thinking that the plot is insubstantial and meanders off into nothingness. I was delighted by the shift and the unexpected depth toward the end. I was so concerned with looking for the crocodiles on the sandbanks that I felt completely safe wading into the water...where Doughty grabbed me with one snap of her jaws.
I am now looking for other books by Louise Doughty. I want to see if she can lead me astray once more.
The author tried to tell three stories in one novel and mostly succeeded, however it was a bit confusing at times.
Kind of a "cozy noir" genre.
Couldn't get with the writing style.
I enjoyed this book, it was a perfect vacation book, as it was a real page-turner that was perfect for reading on a noisy airplane. It takes place in a small English town, and I found the English terms (as opposed to American English) and language differences interesting, and they added to the character of the book. The main character is a reporter for the local news, in a town where nothing much happens, when one morning a man and wife from a neighboring house are found stabbed to death, and their teenage daughter is missing. The book follows the search for the truth, with some unexpected twists.
As I was reading this book,I kept thinking that there was a good story in here somewhere, but it needed some good editing so make it more coherent. There is no suspense, no mystery and the characterizations are muddy-the main character's motivations are unclear and her backstory, although interestingly macabre does nothing for the story. Very disappointing.
The bodies of the Cowpers, a reclusive are found murdered and their daughter is nowhere to be found. A great English Mystery
When the bodies of the Cowpers, a reclusive middle-aged couple, are discouverred brutally slaughtered--and their teenage daughter goes missing- the tiny village of Nether Bowston reels in shock. Amd as the Townpeople mull over first murder in a century, everyone is asking the seame question. Where is Gemma Cowper?