No Known Grave
Review: It is 1942 and Detective Inspector Tom Tyler has taken a new post in Ludlow, Stropshire, England. Just three days after arriving he is called to investigate a double homicide at St. Anne's Convalescent Hospital, housed in an old manor house on the edge of town. The hospital is staffed by nurses who are Anglican nuns. The patients are all members of some branch of the service, who had experienced various injuries, from loss of legs, blindness, severe burns from explosions and various degrees of trauma. All are incapacitated in one way or another. Because some of the patients have brain damage, suffer horrible nightmares, and act out in various ways in their sleep, the hospital is gated and locked at sundown with a guard at each exit. Tyler is puzzle how someone could have committed a murder in such a secure place, in No Known Grave, the third mystery in this series by Maureen Jennings.
The dead are Sergeant Jock McHattie and his son Ben. The family lived in a cottage on the manor's grounds. McHattie worked at St. Anne's as a teacher of massage to help in the easing the pain and possibly to help cure of the injured. When he did not come to work on the morning of July 15th one of the patients went to the cottage to make sure McHattie was all right. There he found Ben, Jock's oldest son, who had just celebrated his 16th birthday, dead on the floor with a bullet hole in his head. McHattie was found lying in his bed, also dead with a bullet hole in his head. His youngest son had hidden from the intruder and was terrified but unharmed. He could not, however, say what the man looked like that killed his father and brother. Jock's wife and daughter, an unmarried pregnant 18-year-old, had spent the night with family in Wem and had not returned home yet. Tyler comes face to face with a crime that seems impossible to solve. No one could leave the hospital, and if they could, with their injuries, what damage could they do? The cottage was not broken into. Neither McHattie nor Ben had any defensive marks on their bodies. McHattie was admired by all the members of the staff and the injured inmates. Why would anyone target this man and his son? The world is at war, but Tyler finds that even worse crimes have taken place in this home for the injured. Separately, Tyler also begins to receive cryptic letters describing crimes far from his home. Why? Is someone trying to warn him, or send him a message? And if so, what might it be?
There is a lot to like about No Known Grave, from the atmospheric setting of the old manor house and its grounds to the descriptive scenes of wartime Britain. The characters are well drawn, and the puzzles presented to DI Tom Tyler are really quite hard to decipher. A fine entry in this historical series by the author of the equally enjoyable Detective William Murdoch mysteries.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of No Known Grave.
Acknowledgment: McClelland & Stewart provided a copy of No Known Grave for this review.
Review Copyright © 2015 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in No Known Grave: England
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No Known Grave by Maureen Jennings — A Tom Tyler Mystery
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: October 2014
List Price: $22.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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