By Nina Jon
In the first of the crime and mystery series, we meet sixty-three year old private detective Jane Hetherington for the first time. With her dear husband dead, and her only child in the United States, Jane has time on her hands. Having been an ‘amateur’ private detective for most of her adult life, she decides to set up her own private detective agency, armed with nothing but a website, a mobile phone, and an uncanny ability to get to the bottom of the most impenetrable conundrums. Almost immediately, people turn to her for help.
The novel opens in a ramshackled farmhouse, which is home to the first people to engage her services, Jon and Carolyn King. They want Jane to find out who broke into their home and their safe, not to steal from it (despite the substantial sum of money there) but to deposit money there. Whilst she sits shivering in the Kings’ freezing house, Jane wonders if the secret benefactor just feels sorry for Carolyn – married to a man too mean even to put the heating on in the winter – but then she begins to realise the truth is far from amusing.
In her next case, Jane meets a young Chinese woman, Foo Yong. Foo Yong tells Jane that one evening her young fiancé, Cheung Kin, ran out of the house after a heated argument with Foo Yong’s uncle and she hasn’t seen him since. Her family are insisting he has returned to the wife and family in China that they are certain he has, but Foo Yong refuses to accept this, believing he has gone to ground until the storm blows over. Foo Yong doesn’t know how to go about finding him and the truth, and needs Jane’s help.
The novel moves back in time to the day Jane (then Jane Preston) meets her future husband, Hugh Hetherington, in their local library where she is a librarian. The two come face-to-face when Jane finds Hugh spying on someone from between two volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Hugh becomes involved with helping Jane solve a mystery. Why does a man spend each morning in the library watching the street below with a pair of binoculars? Is he a tramp? Suspicious of his wife? A compiler of bus number plates? Jane thinks not. She thinks it’s all really very simple.
A few days later, Jane is cornered by Hugh’s sister, Felicity, outside the library one evening after work. Felicity has ‘borrowed’ her future mother-in-law’s valuable diamond ring (without its owner’s permission) and despite no one but herself knowing she had the ring, and her leaving it in a locked room in a house full of people, it’s been stolen. How on earth can she get the ring back before her fiancé’s mother returns from holiday, without involving the police? Can Jane help? Well of course she can!
The novel moves back to the present day. Jane has received two more instructions. The first from a young woman simply known as Sam, who wants to know what, or rather who, her wealthy boyfriend is suddenly so preoccupied with. She knows it isn’t her!
The other person to instruct her is a Dawn Gray. Dawn suspects her son is being bullied at his new school and refuses to believe his teachers’ assurances to the contrary. Jane takes on the case – with entirely unexpected consequences.
Two other storylines run throughout the novel – the apparently voluntary disappearance of a local man, and the arrest of a famous actor, Callum McCallum, for the murder of a man called Harrison Monk.
Jane knows the local man well – he is a near neighbour of hers – and as a lay magistrate, sends Callum MacCallum up to the Crown Court for trial. However, her involvement in each of the storylines runs deeper than this. It is she who uncovers the real truth behind her near neighbour’s disappearance, and in doing so, also discovers what really happened on the night of Harrison Monk’s death.
You can purchase the book online from Smashwords in multiple eBook formats at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/170548.
eBook formatting by Shelley Glasow Schadowsky.