Big Girls Don't Cry (by Sally Quilford)

I have quite a few Sally Quilford books on my Kindle. I have downloaded them over the years, usually when she offers books free. They are not particularly long - more novella length than novel - and ideal reading for a flight. So, on a recent journey, I scrolled through my collection and found ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, third in the Bobby Blandford series.

I had read the first two in the series, The Last Dance and The Runaway and liked them very much. I recalled the young, enthusiastic Bobby, a policewoman in the early 1960s when this profession was mainly dominated by men and when sexism was rife. This is Bobby’s third year in the Stoney End Force, and she has made some friends, but is still treated with suspicion and contempt by others in the force.

This story begins when Bobby and a colleague are called out to a minor break-in at the house of two middle-aged women. They’re a bit confused about what has happened, and nothing appears to have been stolen. So when they receive another call, to the scene of a bank robbery, they race off immediately. Great excitement ensues as this is a small village and crime is usually limited to the breaking of a window.

The bank staff describe what happened when four men wearing silly masks threatened them, gave the bank manager a nasty injury, and stole all the cash intended for the local factory payroll. Bobby decides to investigate some bank robberies of the past, convinced there is a connection.

This book is not just a crime story, however. Sally Quilford is skilled in characterisation, and relationships of varying kinds are as important as the plot. Bobby, who has been going out with the local doctor for two years, is having trouble with her love life. He keeps upsetting her, and their relationship doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Is he too busy, or becoming indifferent, or does he want their relationship to end? And what should she do about the attentions of a visiting Scotland Yard policeman?

Then there’s stress with Bobby’s older brother Tom, who also works for Scotland Yard. She has always idolised him, but he seems very stressed, and is behaving towards locals in ways that shock her. Has he changed, or was he always this way? Can she trust him…?

I was quickly caught up in the story, which has some shocks but nothing too gory; I had guessed part of the outcome and was already suspicious about one person who turned out to be a bad guy. But there were parts I didn’t expect too. The writing is crisp, the conversation believable, and I enjoyed spending a couple of hours with Bobby, who is a delightful creation - full of enthusiasm and integrity, but somewhat accident-prone and inclined to take everything personally.

Definitely recommended if you enjoy light crime fiction of this genre. Only available in Kindle form.

Review copyright 2018 Sue's Book Reviews

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