The Property of Lies
The Property of Lies A 1930s’ historical mystery by Marjorie Eccles Severn House Severn House Publishers Historical Fiction Pub Date 01 Sep 2017
The Property of Lies is an excellent historical mystery set in the aftermath of WWI, in the heart of 1930s England. The writing takes some getting used to, as it is written in present tense, unlike the vast majority of novels. It is well worth continuing past any feelings of awkwardness. The story is set at the newly established Maxfield Court School for Girls, where Inspector Reardon’s wife has accepted a post teaching French. The previous French teacher left with little notice, but no one at the school expected her body to be found hidden in the disused wing. While Reardon's team investigates the murder, his wife Ellen asks her own questions. The school is awash in secrets, and plagued by incidents that may be pranks. They grow more serious, when one of the students disappears.
Maxstead school’s success or failure could easily impact the young women studying. Advanced education opportunities for young women, particularly those of lower incomes were rare in 1930s Britain, as were jobs for educated women. It was not unusual for women to have to work, but professions and opportunities open were few. At the same time, any hint of moral impropriety in a woman's past could lead to social and career ruin. This is why the threat to Maxstead school depicted in The Property of Lies is so heartfelt. At the same time, it is nice to see how Ellen and her husband work in tandem. While this is a police procedural, it is a softer form. I enjoyed The Property of Lies, and look forward to reading more books by Marjorie Eccles.
4 / 5
I received a copy of The Property of Lies from the publisher and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
DI Herbert Reardon is drawn into a world of secrets and lies when a body is discovered at a girls’ boarding school. 1930. When a body is discovered on the premises of the newly-established Maxstead Court School for Girls, Detective Inspector Herbert Reardon is called in to investigate. His wife Ellen having just accepted a job as French teacher, Reardon is alarmed to find the school a hotbed of scandalous secrets, suppressed passions, petty jealousies and wanton schoolgirl cruelty. As he pursues his enquiries, it becomes clear that the dead woman was not who – or what – she claimed to be. Who was she really – and why is Reardon convinced that more than one member of staff is not telling him the whole truth? Then a pupil goes missing – and the case takes a disturbing new twist …