Thursday, January 5, 2017

“Murder in Adland” by Bruce Beckham

Detective Inspector Daniel Skelgill of the Cumbria Police is fishing by himself in England’s Lake District – one of the greatest pleasures he finds in life. His mobile phone rings, and he grouses at the interruption as he answers it. There went the pleasure of solitude and fish. A murder has been reported at one of the area hotels.

His usual partner on leave, Skelgill arrives at the hotel still in his fishing gear, and meets his assigned partner – Detective Sergeant Emma Jones. She’s still dressed for an undercover operation at a warehouse rave party, which means barely dressed. Together they begin to investigate the murder of a partner in an advertising firm, co-headquartered in London and Edinburgh and having a firm holiday in the Lake District.

Suspects and possible motives abound. There’s the wife of the deceased, who might have gotten a little tired of her husband’s philandering. There’s the other owner-partner, sweating a possible sale of the fire. There are employees, jealous of both the wife and each other. There’s a former employee, recently fired, who says he was birdwatching but can’t really account for his time.

Bruce Beckham
Murder in Adland is mystery writer Bruce Beckham’s first novel in the Inspector Skelgill Investigates series (there are a total of eight, not to mention three other books not part of the series written by the author). Beckham is an award-winning copywriter and author, lives in Great Britain, and is a member of the Society of Authors. Based on the scenes and settings of this novel, he is also likely well-versed in mountain running, birdwatching, and fishing. And the Lake District.

The detectives’ investigations lead them to London and Edinburgh, with a side trip to Norfolk (for the birdwatching). Time after time each lead ends in nothing, and Skellgill is in danger of losing the case to a rival in the police force. And then he goes fishing, and it is while sitting in his boat on the lake that a seemingly insignificant detail comes to mind.

Written in the present tense (which adds a sense of urgency and even tension), Murder in Adland is an entertaining introduction to a new police detective series.

Photograph of the English Lake District by George Hodan via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

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