Down an alleyway just off the High Street, The Bootleggers Club is a place in Oxford that’s a bit on the seamy side. Drug transactions, a bit of prostitution, underage drinking – and yes, all the teens and 20-somethings want to be there. It’s also a place where new bands can get some exposure, like the Rainbirds and its lead singer Ray Reason.
But one night in that September of 1963, Ray is found dead on the club’s back circular stairs. It looks like he slipped or missed his footing – an accidental death. Dr. Clement Ryder, Oxford’s coroner, isn’t satisfied. But the inquest jury isn’t into nuances, and a verdict of accidental death is returned. Ryder quietly begins his own investigation, and he convinces the police to – once again – allow Woman’s Police Constable (WPC) Trudy Loveday to help him. And soon Loveday and Ryder, with the help of Ryder’s son, are knee-deep in the questionable side of the music business, everyone with a secret to hide, and what clearly becomes a case of murder.
And time is short. Ryder’s Parkinson’s Disease is advancing, and he can no longer hide its side-effects and symptoms from Loveday. He’s going to have to tell her, with the inevitable end of their joint investigations. For a woman police officer in 1963, the opportunity to be involved in important police work has been a godsend – and now it looks to be coming to an end.
A Fatal End is the eighth mystery novel in the Ryder and Loveday series by British author Faith Martin, and it’s just as good as the first. Martin has managed to keep all eight books in the series at the same high level of quality. This reader hopes that she will invent a way to keep the detecting duo together, in spite of Ryder’s progressing disease.
In addition to the Ryder and Loveday novels, Martin (a pen name for Jacquie Walton) has also published the series she’s best known for – the DI Hilary Greene novels, as well as the Jenny Sterling mysteries. Under the name Joyce Cato, she has published several non-series detective stories. Both Cato and Martin are also pen names for Walton. (Walton has another pen name as well – Maxine Barry, under which she wrote 14 romance novels.) A native of Oxford, she lives in a village in Oxfordshire.