Having previously enjoyed Headline Murder, Stop Press Murder and Front Page Murder from the nostalgic Crampton of the Chronicle mystery series, I was really pleased to finally get round to reading The Mother’s Day Mystery by Peter Bartram, the next book in the series or so I thought… Turns out this 2018 release is actually the second book in the Deadline Murder series. Oops!
Thankfully there was no harm done though, as this newer mystery series still follows the investigative antics of our much-loved Colin Crampton: ace crime reporter for the Brighton Evening Chronicle, and this read didn’t suffer from me not having read the previous book, The Tango School Mystery (although I would like to go back to this one at some point). There is Colin’s ongoing relationship with his feisty Australian girlfriend, Shirley running in the background of these books, but the mysteries themselves stand-alone so they could very easily be read out of order; which is lucky for me!
The Mother’s Day Mystery kicks off, late one night on their drive home, when Colin and Shirley discover the battered bike and body of grammar school pupil, Spencer Hooke, out on a rarely used cliffside road. At first glance it looks like just a terrible hit-and-run killing, but Colin wonders why the body appears to have been moved and why a school boy would be out here alone, on a rain-soaked night anyway? The local Detective Inspector Bernard Holdsworth seems disinclined to investigate further, however scenting a story, Colin takes matters into his own hands.
Colin soon discovers that Spencer was no innocent, butter-wouldn’t-melt kind of young man and a list as long as him arm starts to form of possible suspects, that Spencer had bullied and blackmailed at school, and further digging brings up links to a crazy hippie commune; an eccentric group of church bell-ringers; and a chemistry teacher, with an unusual late-night hobby. It sounds all rather comical, but this is no laughing matter, and Colin and Shirley find themselves dicing with danger as they close in on the bizarre truth on Mother’s Day.
As with the previous books, Bartram has also brilliantly evoked the era of the 1960s, with its classic cars, fashion, music, food and smoky pubs! As well as realistically bringing alive crime reporting at the time too, with the smoky, bustling newsroom; ringing phones and clicking typewriters; and good old-fashioned leg work and searching through the archives. No mobiles and internet here to help! Plus on top of the main event, they’re are the amusing offshoot stories of Colin’s childless landlady being kicked out of the Mothers Union and the worrying disappearance of Shirley’s own mother.
All in all, I thought The Mother’s Day Mystery was another jolly good, British murder-mystery in the swinging sixties, with plenty of twists and turns, laughs, danger and charm, and a solution I never saw coming! I hope to get to the next book in the series, The Comedy Club Mystery, soon. Good read ⭐⭐
(Thank you to the author for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion)
Now I’d love to hear your thoughts: Have you read this? Or any other books from this series?