An Air that Kills by Andrew Taylor

An Air That Kills is the first book in Andrew Taylor’s in his Lydmouth crime series. I’ve read several of his other books and thoroughly enjoyed them, but none in this series.  It has a slow beginning but once it had established the characters and set the scene the pace picks up. The setting is Lydmouth, a small market town on the Welsh/English border just after the end of the Second World War.

It begins as journalist, Jill Francis arrives to stay with her friends, Philip and Charlotte in Lydmouth, to recover from a bad experience – the details are are only revealed later in the book.  Also new to the town is Inspector Richard Thornhill, who is finding it difficult to adjust to working in the local police force. There’s been a spate of burglaries and there are whispers that a black marketeer is heading to their area. So there is plenty going on and then workmen digging out a drain discover a wooden box containing baby’s bones, an old brooch and some scraps of yellowed newspaper. When Major Harcutt, the local historian was consulted he found that there could be a connection to an old murder trial. 

Harcutt is elderly, living on his own and estranged from his daughter, Antonia. But when he is involved in a road accident and is then burgled Charlotte contacts Antonia and she reluctantly returns home to help him. Meanwhile, Jill is persuaded to help Inspector Thornhill in his investigation into the mystery of the baby’s bones.

It’s a good mix of police investigation, and personal stories, including those of Richard and Jill, of Jill and Philip and Charlotte, of Harcutt and his daughter, and the burglar and the black marketeer.  There is a strong sense of time and place – I thought the 1950s setting was well done. I enjoyed the interaction between the characters and and will definitely read on in the series to see how the relationship between Jill and Richard develops.

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1382 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; New Ed edition (13 Sept. 2012)
  • Source: I bought it
  • My Rating 4*

4 thoughts on “An Air that Kills by Andrew Taylor

  1. I do like a novel that explores relationships and also keeps the plot going, Margaret. That’s not an easy balance to achieve. And the setting for this one is particularly appealing to me. Glad you enjoyed this one!

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  2. I’ll have a look at this series. I’m just reading his book of three long short stories, Fireside Gothic, and it’s very good. The stories are very much in the M.R. James mode.

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  3. I recently read this too and couldn’t decide if I liked it or not. The sense of place and time was good and I liked the way he slowly revealed the backstory of the characters but I didn’t really care for any of them, including Jill or Thornhill (destined to become a couple?). I did request the second book from the library, however.

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