After being on my autumn and winter to-be-read lists without success, I finally got round to reading Headline Murder by new-to-me author, Peter Bartram, at the end of spring. This is the first book in Bartram’s Crampton of The Chronicle crime, mystery series.
It’s August 1962, and Colin Crampton, a crime reporter for the Brighton Evening Chronicle, is desperate for a front-page story, when he receives a tip-off about the disappearance of the owner of the seafront’s crazy-golf, Arnold Trumper. On further investigation, Crampton scents a scoop as he discovers that Trumper’s vanishing act is possibly linked to an unsolved murder and dodgy property deals. However some powerful and dangerous people are determined Crampton should not discover the truth, so he will need to use every journalist trick in the book if he is to land this exclusive.
What follows is a very British murder mystery, with twists, turns, colourful characters and a good dash of humour too. All of which befits a story set in Brighton: one of Britain’s coolest, trend-setting towns. Plus Bartram took me back and brilliant evoked the time and style of the swinging sixties – like two of my favourite crime dramas, Endeavour and Inspector George Gently – with its classic cars, well-cut suits, pop music, food and smoky pubs! So I was pretty much in setting heaven! And while there is a dark, realistic edge to this, there is no gratuitous blood or gore, which makes this perfect for those, like me, who prefer lighter murder mysteries.
We follow all the fast-paced action and unravelling plot through the eyes of our protagonist, Colin Crampton, a dedicated – if sometimes rather cocky – local reporter. Who is willing to go the miles, even risking personal grief and putting himself in danger to finally solve this mystery and get his story. I must say I became very fond of our reporter, especially seeing him get up to all kinds of mischief while on the case, which also leads to romantic strife with his feisty Aussie girlfriend, Shirley!
What I was also really impressed with was how Bartram was able to so realistically describe the world of crime reporting, for even a journalistic novice like me! So it was no surprise to learn, after finishing this book, that Bartram has years of experience as a journalist himself. I just loved how he brought alive the smoky, bustling newsroom, with its ringing phones and clicking typewriters. And how – in an age without computers or mobile phones – Crampton has to do good, old-fashioned leg work and trips down to the archive office, as he desperately tries to produce the sort of copy that is demanded for the editor’s deadline.
All in all, I am so pleased I finally got round to reading Headline Murder. It was a good, page-turning murder mystery, with a likeable protagonist and great setting. I would be very interested in reading more from this series. Good read.
Thank you to the author for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
Have you read this? Or any other mysteries set in the colourful Brighton?