Over the years I’ve read hundreds of murder themed novels. My favourites were from the Golden Age of murder mysteries, books set in the twenties, thirties and forties. One thing about the vast majority of the famous authors at the time, was the disparaging attitude they took towards the working class. No one had a good word to say about them, they were always portrayed as, rude, subservient, uneducated or just plain criminally minded and I include the wonderful Agatha Christie in that criticism. It’s easy to see why they did it. The working class wasn’t their intended audience. Their books were aimed squarely at the middle classes. Dorothy L Sayers even made her investigator a lord and he hated anything to do with the smelly, unwashed. They have to be forgiven though, they were all wonderful writers and their books were just, of a time.
Shoot forward to the present and enter my super sleuth, Amy Rowlings. Amy is a feisty, intelligent young woman who enjoys fashion, American music and Agatha Christie novels and she takes no nonsense from the supposedly, superior sex. The books are set in the pre war Golden Age era, but, Amy works as a machinist at The Mill, a clothing factory in an industrial Kent town called Spinton. She also helps out at London Connection, a posh dress shop in the town.
Bodkin, the handsome police inspector doesn’t have a lot of time for the upper crust, as he believes they are just as crooked any other criminal element in the town, the only difference being, their public school education and well to do contacts seem to keep them away from the law courts. Amy isn’t as cynical, she gets along with pretty much everyone regardless of their background.
In Murder on the Medway, Bodkin is convinced that someone from the upper echelons of Spinton society is responsible for the murder of a young girl who is found in the reed beds, where the local Silverstream brook meets the Medway river, and he is determined to investigate the posh Highwater Rowing Club, which is situated a few miles upstream from Spinton at the Highwater Marina.
Amy meanwhile takes a more nuanced view and everyone from the tea room waiters to the posh rowing club captain come under scrutiny.
After writing the first three chapters and describing how the victim is found, I took a week off to talk things through with Amy and we have come to an agreement as to how we proceed with the story. Amy, as she always does, will get involved trying to help the poor and vulnerable in the town through the church poverty group. Murder on the Medway, like its predecessors, Murder at the Mill, Death at the Lychgate and the Murder Awards is as much a social commentary of life in the late 1930s as it is a murder story. I hope you enjoy it when it is ready.
The Murder Awards will be published on November 5th 2023 by SpellBound Books Ltd