Who Killed Vivien Morse? is the fourth book in the DCI Peter Hatherall series. I haven’t read the other three, but the author has done a great job making this a stand-alone book.
This is what I would call a traditional English mystery. It opens with a complaint to the nattily dressed DCI Hatherall by a neighborhood busybody, who reports seeing a man, looking like a Druid and accompanied by a dog, peeking into the windows of houses in her neighborhood. Hatherall’s interaction with her is humorous but is quickly leavened by the discovery of the body of a young social worker, the Vivien Morse of the title, battered to death in a local wood.
The reader is quickly introduced to the main players in the action: Hatherall’s partner, Fiona; Ellen, a disturbed, strange young woman who was Vivien’s last client contact; Nigel Morse, Vivian’s husband – a prime suspect but with an alibi; Jane Salt, Vivien’s boss, with whom Vivien has publicly argued; Lucy and Ian, Ellen’s parents, whose marital relationship is strained, and Kathy, Ellen’s aunt.
We learn that Ellen’s problems date from being run down by her boyfriend, Robbie Creer, who is serving time in prison for fraud. Creer is discovered to have links to each of these characters as the yarn unwinds, including Dick Death (pronounced Deeath), the hulking, sandal-wearing Druid-like man. I enjoyed the characters, although Dick Death, and his new, elderly girlfriend, Gladys, rather overpowered everyone else. Ellen, with clear mental issues, also stands out, with her occasional violent episodes and her attachment to a ragged doll she calls ‘Future,’ a replacement for Robbie’s baby which she lost in the accident.
There are a number of McGuffins cleverly placed to lead the reader, Hatherall and Fiona down various paths before the main path to the solution is discovered. The story is complex and the reader needs to pay close attention to figure out whodunit.
I loved the light humor of various parts of the book. What did become somewhat tedious after a while were the long, long dialogues between Peter and Fiona, not quite the give-and-take of real conversation. Nevertheless, the characters were human, with all the normal warts and foibles.
About the Author
The author describes herself as an accidental writer of mysteries with quirky characters. She is an avid reader and reviewer and loves live theatre, horses and dogs. Her books are traditional mysteries set in the Cotsworlds, England, and reflect the tensions between old traditions and contemporary lifestyles.
You can find her at
and on Twitter: @DianaJFebry
and a list of her books on Smashwords:
Who Killed Vivien Morse? can be found on Amazon books: