TP Fielden

The Riviera Express

"The whole book has a slightly tongue in cheek feel, and parts are laugh out loud funny."


It is 1958 in the sleepy Devon town of Temple Regis. Nothing much happens here and what does is reported by the local newspaper, The Riviera Express, that shares its name with the train that delivers visitors to the town from Paddington. One of the reporters on the paper is Miss Judy Dimont. To outward appearance she is a middle aged, slightly dowdy spinster who is assigned to the mainly dull local events. Her editor is an opinionated and tetchy man with whom Miss Dimont does not always agree.

But excitement is coming to Temple Regis: first of all, much loved film star, Gerald Hennessey, is found murdered on the 4.30 from Paddington. Then another body, apparently a suicide, is found at the bottom of a cliff. Miss Dimont is on the case, rushing to the scene of the crime on her trusty moped (possibly the first clue that she is less than conventional).

More famous faces arrive in town, and Miss Dimont has her suspicions as to what secrets might have led to the deaths. As the book progresses, we learn a little more about Judy Dimont and there are hints of an exciting and important past.

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Cosy Crime this definitely is and none the worse for that. Judy Dimont evolves from a long history of exceptional unexpected women who are adept at solving crimes missed by the professionals, Miss Marple, Agatha Raisin and Catriona McPherson's Dandy Gilver for example. It is not a ground breaking scenario but Miss Dimont has sufficient of a mystery around her to catch the imagination and intrigued this reader. The atmosphere of post war Britain in the 1950s is beautifully portrayed. As one who can (just about) remember it, it is very evocative. There are some lovely characters. I particularly liked Athene Madrigale, an other-worldly persona who floats around dispensing tea and sympathy. The whole book has a slightly tongue in cheek feel, and parts are laugh out loud funny. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it as a relaxing read.

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