WYCHWOOD

PrintE-mail Written by Ian White

Elspeth Reeves is not having a good month. She’s lost her job, she’s split up with her boyfriend, and when she returns to Wychwood to temporarily move back in with her mother she notices that the police have cordoned off the woods on the other side of her mother’s garden wall. But luckily for Elspeth (and the reader) she is a plucky journalist in true Nancy Drew style, so she can’t resist climbing over the wall to discover that the woman the police are crowding around has been ritually murdered and – even luckier – that one of her oldest friends is co-leading the investigation! What’s an unemployed broken-hearted journo to do except seize the opportunity to write about the murder for the local newspaper and team up with her new BFF / police detective contact to do some sleuthing of her own? Because the Gods of Coincidence and Lazy Plotting are smiling down on Elspeth: as soon as she saw the body she remembered that the murder is identical to an illustration in an old children’s book that she fortunately still has tucked away in the wardrobe back at her mum’s house. Better than that, when the newspaper editor sends Elspeth off on a totally unrelated assignment to interview the elderly winner of a photographic competition (who thoughtfully leaves her front door off the latch) our inquisitive heroine discovers that the old lady has come to a messy end in her bedroom after being psychically compelled to kill herself by the weird psycho lurking in the woods. Could both deaths be related to the spooky legend of the Carrion King which, coincidentally, is about to be staged by the village’s amateur dramatics society? or could it have something to do with a long-forgotten story about a missing child that Elspeth tracks down, without much difficulty, in the newspaper’s ‘it’s-so-dusty-you’ll-never-find-what-you’re-looking-for-in-there’ archive? (Fortunately for Elspeth, her mother remembered the missing child story and two rival authors are on hand with lots of useful Carrion King exposition). Impossible-to-miss clues, dubious red herrings, and painful attempts at making this dull adventure seem more sinister and convoluted than it actually is are falling into Elspeth’s lap wherever she goes, but will she unmask the Carrion King before he slaughters again or will she be next on his list of sacrifices? Keep your fingers crossed it will be the latter.

 

Wychwood is a poorly conceived old-fashioned whodunnit that’s a bit like a Midsomer Murders version of The Wicker Man with all the good bits taken out. On the plus side, if you’re looking for an undemanding un-thrilling thriller to take on holiday and leave unopened on the beach for the seagulls to peck at, this is one of the best examples we’ve read all summer…

 

WYCHWOOD / AUTHOR: GEORGE MANN / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: 12TH SEPTEMBER



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