The Doctor's Daughter (by Sally Quilford)

I’ve read several of Sally Quilford’s novellas and have very much enjoyed her articles about writing, both on and offline. Any time she offers one of her books free for Kindle download, I snap it up immediately.

One such book is ‘The Doctor’s Daughter’, which introduces Peg Bradbourne, an independent young woman in 1917. Unlike many of the young ladies of her time - including her sisters - Peg likes to do things by herself, and speak her mind; as the story starts, she is considering moving out of her step-mother’s home and into a cottage in the village.

Peg is, as the title suggests, a doctor’s daughter. Her father was somewhat unconventional and she saw many things that girls of her era would not normally be aware of. So when she learns that a dead man has been discovered, she goes to take a look.

The police don’t see any mystery in his circumstances but Peg notices his lack of boots, and determines to find out who he was, and who might have removed his footwear… then, just as things are calming down a little, someone else is found dead, in far more suspicious circumstances.

This is a light crime fiction novella, giving some background into Peg’s life as a young woman. She appears as a minor character in the 'Midchester Memories' series of books, set in the middle of the 20th century, and always rather intrigued me, so I enjoyed getting to know her a little. She comes across as a believable and likeable person, as do her more conventional (if shadowy) sisters.

Most of Sally Quilford’s light crime novellas have a low-key romance, and I rather like the resultant mixture; however in this one, despite discussions of infidelities and potential suitors, Peg is single and remains so.

My biggest problem with this book is the sheer number of characters. There are villagers, and visitors; shop-keepers and elderly gossipping women. I read the book over just three days; it’s not long, and I found it quite engaging. But other than two or three significant people, I lost track almost entirely of who was whom. That wouldn’t matter so much in a different genre, but in crime fiction I like to be able to work out at least a potential candidate for ‘whodunit’.

In this book, however, I didn’t really have much idea of what was going on. There's no obvious motive for the crimes committed, no trail of false clues, and not many real clues either, other than a few references to similarities - or otherwise - between family members. When the perpetrator is revealed, it made sense to me, but I didn’t have any gradual feeling of revelation. There’s another twist too, which I thought was clever but also a bit disappointing.

Still, I’m glad I read this; it makes a good background to the ‘Midchester Memories’ series. I gather there will be other novellas specifically about Peg, and look forward to reading them.

'The Doctor's Daughter' is available inexpensively in Kindle form on both sides of the Atlantic, and should also now be available in large print hardback.

Review by copyright 2015 Sue's Book Reviews

1 comment:

Quillers said...

Thank you again, Sue, for your well thought out and measured review. You really do me proud! x