Ever since Conan Doyle introduced Sherlock Holmes, writers of detective fiction have understood that their detective must have identifiable characteristics. For many, it seems a case of the odder the better. When JJ Marsh created the Scotland Yard policewoman Beatrice Stubbs, she hit on a novel idea: to make Beatrice an absolutely recognisable normal human being – someone just like you or me with all the problems normal people have and making the mistakes normal people make. Refreshing does not begin to describe the feeling of reading about the woman Marsh calls Beatrice and I have come to think of as Stubbsie.
The opening leads the reader straight into the atmosphere and the story and Stubbs aficionados (of whom I am one) will sink into it as into a comfortable armchair. All the usual Stubbsie goodies are here – a carefully worked out and clever plot; a sense of location that enables us to see clearly places we have never been to; human vulnerability; real emotions and genuine affection; and a threat that is only warded off by the cleverness and dedication to which we have become accustomed.
If you already know Beatrice Stubbs then – obviously – you have to read this one. If you don’t, I envy you. What a treat you have in store!