Thursday, September 7, 2023

"Death on Coffin Lane" by Jo Allen

It’s a mystery with an overlay of William Wordsworth. 

Cody Wilder is an American academic staying for some months at Grasmere, the home town of the Romantic poet William Wordsworth. She has made a significant discovery with some letters relating to Wordsworth and his sister, and she’s there to do research and give a public lecture. She also attracts, and creates, controversy, and there have been a number of online threats made against her.


When her English research assistant is found hanging in her cottage kitchen, apparently a suicide, Detective Chief Inspector Jude Satterthwaite of the Cumbria Police and his team handle the investigation. He takes an instant dislike to Wilder, as does the reader. She’s obnoxious at best, self-centered and opinionated, and she doesn’t think twice about lying to the police. Trying to create sympathy for her later in the story is going to fall flat; the reader won’t mind if something dastardly happens to her.


Then the body of a man in a nearby New Age encampment is found, more deaths are in the offing. Satterthwaite has his hands full. But the Wordsworth letters seem to be involved; someone is desperately searching for something and won’t stop at murder.


Jo Allen

Death on Coffin Lane
 is the third DCI Jude Satterthwaite mystery by British author Jo Allen. If you’re a Wordsworth fan, you’ll find yourselves treated to quotations, biographical information, literary speculation, and the atmosphere of Grasmere. 


Allen is a native of Wolverhampton, England, and has graduate and postgraduate degrees in geography and earth science. After a career as an economic consultant, she began writing short stories, romance, and romantic suspense under the pen name of Jennifer Young. She began writing the DCI Satterthwaite crime novels in 2017.  


It’s a good mystery, but the drawing of the American academic is a bit overdone. Later in the story, when some sympathy is called for, she’s burned so many bridges with the reader that little if any will be forthcoming. That said, the character of Cody Wilder is a almost stereotype of controversial academics, and stereotypes will have some element of truth contained within them. 




Death by Dark Waters by Jo Allen.


Death at Eden’s End by Jo Allen


Some Thursday Readings


Murders for September – Jeremy Black at The Critic Magazine.


The Cowboy as Detective: Finding Charlie Siringo’s West – Nathan Ward at CrimeReads.


BFFs: The death of Leonora – short story by Vincent Marshall at On the 12th.


Year of the Monarch: The Native Wildflowers Formerly Known as Weeds – Laura Boggess at Tweetspeak Poetry.


Salisbury Cathedral prepares for final ‘topping out’ after 37 years of repairs – Steven Morris at The Guardian


Dorothy L. Sayers and the Thirty-Foot Drain: Searching for Peter Wimsey – James Benn at CrimeReads.


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