23 March 2021

Review: A LESSON IN DYING, Ann Cleeves

  • this edition available as an e-book through Libby
  • originally published in 1990
  • #1 in the Inspector Ramsay series
Synopsis (Amazon)
A Lesson in Dying is the first mystery novel in the Inspector Ramsay series by Ann Cleeves, author of the Shetland and Vera Stanhope crime series.

Who hung the headmaster in the playground on the night of the school Halloween Party?

Almost everyone in Heppleburn either hated or feared the viper-tongued Harold Medburn. Inspector Ramsay is convinced it was the headmaster’s enigmatic wife but Jack Robson, school governor and caretaker, is determined to prove her innocence.

With the help of his restless daughter Patty, Jack digs into the secrets of Heppleburn, and uncovers a cesspit of lies, adultery, blackmail and madness .
My Take
You can see from the list below that I have read a lot by this author and generally really enjoyed them. I can't believe that I have never come across the Inspector Ramsay series before, but then it pre-dates both the Vera and the Shetland series.
Inspector Ramsay is a somewhat peculiar character, a bit reclusive and there is some mystery to his background which I haven't yet worked out. Maybe it will become clearer in the next books in the series, which I intend reading.
Harold Medburn, the principal of the Heppleburn school, is a nasty bit of goods, and no-one is regretful about his death. But who hated or feared him enough to kill him? It looks an open and shut case, but  when Inspector Ramsay arrests Medburn's wife, an old flame, Jack Robson, now the elderly school caretaker, begins to try to prove her innocence. 
It seems that everybody in this village has their secrets. When Jack Robson gets coshed during the course of his investigations, Ramsay realises that Kitty Medburn is not the murderer, but it is too late - she has already taken her own life.
A good read.  I will certainly read the next in the series.

My rating: 4.5
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