“As the sun rises, a wealthy young woman – Samantha Seabrook – is found drowned in the ornamental fountain of a deserted Cambridge courtyard, the only clue – an antique silver chain wound tightly around her throat.
It’s Tara Thorpe’s job to discover what happened to Miss Seabrook – but the case becomes personal when she learns that Samantha had been receiving death threats… rather like the one that landed on Tara’s doorstep the night the woman died.
Together with Detective Inspector Garstin Blake, Tara tracks the killer to the dank and dangerous fens on the outskirts of the city. But there’s something Tara can’t quite admit to Blake about her past – and it could make all the difference to whether they live… or die.”
I have always been intrigued by books set in the exclusive university cities of Oxford and Cambridge, especially detective books, and especially ones that provide a glimpse into the exclusive and archaic world of the elite universities that most of us never get to see. My love was initially sparked by the brilliant novel Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers and prevailed through my abiding devotion to the great Inspector Morse novels by Colin Dexter. I think I have found another fabulous series to add to my favourites if this book is anything to go by.
Murder on the Marshes is the first in a new crime series set in Cambridge and I absolutely loved this book. I have read it cover to cover in less than a day and I cannot wait to get my sticky mitts on the second book.
The central character in the book is Tara Thorpe, a journalist working for a sensationalist online paper. When a successful, young, glamorous and attention-seeking professor from the university is found murdered on college grounds, Tara is tasked with getting the in-depth story. She has an added interest in finding out who might have killed Samantha Seabrook, as it seems the same killer may have Tara in his sights.
This book grabbed me by the throat from the opening chapter and refused to let go until the very end. It has absolutely everything connoisseurs of the classic crime novel could want and I am seriously excited to have discovered this great new writer. The story was a fantastic puzzle, filled with twists, turns, red herrings, esoteric clues, dubious characters, tensions, rivalries, all set against the beautiful backdrop of Cambridge and the menacing emptiness of the surrounding Cambridgeshire fens. The author uses the setting and landscape to great effect in the book and it really ramped up the atmosphere. I loved the way she made the flat emptiness of the fens feel claustrophobic, as this is something I have felt myself when visiting that area.
As well as having a great setting and plot, the characters in this book are most appealing and really make the book the compelling read it is. Tara Thorpe, who has a difficult and unresolved past, is very likeable and is a great character to carry the series. I was really involved in her family history and her moral dilemmas and personal struggles and enjoyed the way that the author has left certain issues open to be developed and resolved in future books while at the same time giving this novel a satisfying conclusion, it is very neatly balanced. DI Garstin Blake is also a complex and interesting character and a nice foil for Tara and I really hope that we see more of him in future books and that their relationship develops further.
I have nothing negative to say about this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was an accomplished crime novel and I really look forward to reading the next one.
Murder on the Marshes is published today and you can purchase a copy here. The second book in the series Death on the River will be published on 17 October and I will be reviewing it on the blog on October 19. You can preorder a copy here.
My thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.
About the Author
Clare Chase writes mysteries set in her home city of Cambridge and is fascinated by the location’s contrasts and contradictions. She’s worked in diverse settings – from the 800-year-old University to one of the local prisons – and lived everywhere from the house of a Lord to a slug-infested flat. The terrace she now occupies presents a good happy medium.
As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books. She lives with her husband and teenage children, and currently works at the Royal Society of Chemistry.
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