Book Review: A Fatal Obsession by Faith Martin

Oxford, 1960. There’s a murderer on the loose and two unlikely heroes are poised to solve the case.

Meet Probationary WPC Trudy Loveday – smart, enthusiastic and always underestimated.

In the hope of getting her out of the way, Trudy’s senior officer assigns her to help coroner Clement Ryder as he re-opens the case of a young woman’s death. She can’t believe her luck – she is actually going to be working on a real murder case.

Meanwhile, the rest of the police force are busy investigating a series of threats and murders in the local community, and Clement can’t help but feel it’s all linked.

As Trudy and Clement form an unlikely partnership, are they going to be the ones to solve these crimes before the murderer strikes again?

This is the first book in the Ryder and Loveday Mysteries – I read book six, A Fatal Affair, a few weeks ago and realising it was part of a series decided to go back to the beginning.

I really enjoyed this simple detective story. Being set in the sixties means there is a lot more on foot detective work and conversation to solve the crime. It took me a while to work out why I found the book so enjoyable, I finally worked out that I found it almost comforting. As a 10/11 year old I absolutely adored an old TV show (that wasn’t old at the time!) called Heartbeat – for those unfamiliar with it, it was a show about the village police station set in 1960’s rural Yorkshire – and this series gives off those same vibes.

The writing perhaps isn’t the most nuanced I’ve ever read and is reasonably basic but the plot is well crafted and pulled together and our protagonists are a really interesting pairing – a young WPC who is desperate to be taken seriously at their job and an old Coroner who moved into the career late in life as a medical condition meant he couldn’t continue to be a surgeon anymore. Its refreshing to see a pairing that have absolutely no romantic interest in each other.

Ryder was an interesting character, a man at the top of his career who had had to adapt and who could see past the misgivings of some of his male colleagues to see the skills that Loveday had that made her a good officer who was worthy of teaching.

I like Loveday and her ‘keep going’ attitude, she didn’t let her male colleagues stop her from pushing forward. In Ryder she found someone who actually believed she could do her job, unlike most of those around her – including her family who while they clearly loved and supported her would obviously have preferred her to have picked a different career path.

A nice little series that I will definitely be reading more of.

A Fatal Obsession is available now.

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