I was thrilled to be offered Sian Busby’s last book before she sadly died in September 2012. I first came across this author when I read The Cruel Mother which was a thought-provoking piece of writing.
Before you read this a word of warning; the foreword written by Sian Busby’s husband, Robert Peston, is incredibly touching and had me in tears.
A Commonplace Killing is a deceptively hard-hitting book. No scenes of gruesome violence are written on the page it is worse than that; Sian Busby writes eloquently about the time when the old rules were swiped aside leaving a grubby stain on the country.
Set in Holloway, North London Lillian Forbisher narrates half the story detailing the lead up to the murder. The other half is narrated by the voice of the loveable Divisional Detective Inspector Jim Cooper. With the war over 1946 had become a time where the murder of a tart in a bad area was now a commonplace matter but still one where Jim Cooper wanted the right results, after all this was a time when if convicted the perpetrator would hang.
Sian Busby certainly worked hard to research the time not just how Holloway looked, but how the country acted, the unrelenting continuation of rationing and the necessary queuing, the lack of real jobs for the men returning all give the impression of a nation who have won the war but simply can’t believe that life will improve. Our protagonist Lillian is trying so hard to believe her life can get better while her poor husband Walter is struggling to adapt to life back home and DDI Jim Cooper is worried that love has passed him by.
I found this understated book a fascinating portrait of post-war Britain, the writing was engaging and the key(s) to the murder was skilfully revealed.
I received my copy of this book from the publisher in return for my unbiased review
- the courage and selflessness with which Siân Busby battled cancer (3quarksdaily.com)