by JS Fletcher Oleander Press
Graph Review: highpoint of 55
(100=best ever;0=don’t bother)
The first of a new series called London Bound from Oleander Press: published early in 2013. ‘The Charing Cross Mystery’ by JS Fletcher may not be quite so dark and gothic as the cover suggests but the novel starts smoothly enough with the train pulling into Charing Cross station and sudden death. From then on the story moves along with a steady stream of characters and plot lines and a few more deaths and surprises that offer the reader a variety of choice directions.
The title page did not have the date of when it was originally published but I would guess at the late twenties. It was interesting to glimpse parts of London of the period, no sunny spots or big descriptions but enough for those who know central London, especially Charing Cross and the Strand, to imagine the scene as it might have been. I thought the use of London as main location with forays to the south and back-plot, as it were, to the north of England a useful variety for moving the story along. There was good use of past actions influencing events of the day. The short chapters also egg you on to read further whilst giving you a few moments to keep up with the machinations of plots.
Perhaps the reader has to be a little sympathetic to the heavier style of writing (of the period) compared to some others and today. Hetherwick, the central player, was a somewhat stereotypical character but I would happily read more of him. I did find the selection of character surnames a little hard to cope with as the author seemed unduly fond of names with three syllables. I just found Hetherwick and Matherfield and some others, listed in close conversation, annoying as I tried to read their names internally. Oddly when I read some passages out loud I found them easier to cope with. This may well show up my reading methods more than the author’s choice of names.
Story and characters were all appropriate to the plot, well placed and maintained. They may be a bit stereotypical in part but even authors of today use similar basic characters reappearing with new clothes and accents. The plot-lines were the interesting elements, certainly one element new to me. They progressed, met, crossed and built up nicely with an increasing speed and necessity. As a graph line it maintained upward momentum with highpoints to the end.
Overall I did enjoy reading a bit of a period piece with some good plotting. Maybe not a Holmes flitting around London but a good line in crime solved by a useful character and with an author’s confidence and skill. I will certainly look out for another in the series