My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In the fourth installment in Andrew Taylor’s Lydmouth series, the Korean War is raging, and the town is shadowed by the threats of Communism and nuclear war. Freelance journalist Cameron Rouse travels to town to write a story about homeless squatters who have taken over an abandoned military camp. Lydmouth’s MP, Oliver Yately, visits in hope of stamping out the sparks of a sexual scandal. The police superintendent reopens a three year old cold case, the disappearance of a local teen. The local pub owner is dying of cancer, while his younger wife comes on to his customers. And the stage is set for murder.
DI Richard Thornhill undertakes the case in his usual painstaking way, and his investigation leads him to believe that the murder and the disappearance are somehow connected. The Suffocating Night is a fine police procedural, but on a deeper level, it’s a novel about betrayals. In addition to work, the married-with-children Thornhill must grapple with a betrayal of his own, his growing attraction to local news woman Jill Francis. Both people of integrity, for them it’s a painful struggle.
Taylor takes his readers into the minds and hearts of all the characters, and the events that transpire are beautifully plotted. The suffocating social mores of 1950’s England inform the decisions and actions that each of them make. The outcome of the case comes as an unequivocal surprise, not only for the reader but for characters themselves. First rate fiction; can’t wait to start the next in the series.