RogerBW's Blog

Cold in the Earth, Ann Granger 20 June 2020

1992 mystery; third of Granger's novels of Chief Inspector Markby and non-detective Meredith Mitchell. A digger breaking ground for a new housing development turns up a recently-buried body. Meredith, house-sitting for a friend, inevitably gets involved.

I can feel Granger straining a bit for a reason to get Mitchell down to this small country town when her life and job are in London: now that she's given up the commuting, the ongoing light romance wirh Markby is the only thing left, and that's a fairly weak link for spending a week's holiday on house-sitting.

The murder plot is a good one, with reasons for everything that make sense in terms of the psychology of the killer. It's unfortunate that the one witness who could have solved everything has dropped out of sight; it's clearly necessary to make the story work that he vanish and reappear at the right moment, but it feels like the artifice that it is. Other material is better, including some red herrings and some local characters whom one hopes may reappear in future volumes.

However, there's relatively little of the relationship between Mitchell and Markby which forms the ongoing narrative of the series; there's one big point of disagreement, which isn't really resolved as much as shelved for later, and if anything they're less close to getting together at the end of this than they were at the beginning. Which is done effectively, but part of the job of the romance is to link the books together, and a lack of progress weakens that.

Mostly I think I continue to read these for the sense of fun. Granger is clearly entirely familiar with the conventions of mystery stories, and is happy to tweak them a little while still playing fair with the reader.

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Previous in series: A Season for Murder | Series: Mitchell and Markby | Next in series: Murder Among Us

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