3 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Miss Finch and Miss Swallow, two cousins live in the village of Camborne in the West Country. They lived in a terrace of three houses and had the end ones with a neighbour in between. The middle house was currently vacant, the previous occupant a retired schoolmaster, Mr Herrick, had died suddenly of a heart attack three months ago. Various people had visited with the aim of moving in, but they disapproved of them, until the arrival of a gentleman in his mid-forties.

Two weeks later a removals van pulled up followed soon after by a small yellow car. A man wearing green trousers and a scarlet sweater jumped out and let the removals men in. He notices the two women watching him, and blows a kiss and holds his heart in admiration. He appeared at their door later with the gift of chocolates.

Mr Cadmus had arrived.

Cadmus swiftly moves from being an outsider to fully embedded in village life. The comfortable life and daily routine and they had enjoyed in Camborne disappeared as Mr Cadmus wreaked havoc on the day to day life of the village. There is an armed robbery, unheard of in this village and in Barnstaple one day there is an earthquake. Not everything is as it seems with Mr Cadmus though and the two ladies have their suspicions about him. Then the deaths began…

I have read several of Ackroyd’s non-fiction books, but up until now none of his fiction, so I was delighted to receive this. I thought it was quite captivating at first, the plot line was intriguing and he manages to frame the village as being a nice place to live on the surface, but if you scratch the surface there are lots of things going on. I felt that the characters of the two cousins were not fully formed, they both had a back story of mutual secrets that they had no desire to see revealed, but the arrival of Mr Cadmus adds another level of tension to their relationship. I liked this, it is full of surreal moments and dark humour. However, even though the first half of this was really good, but it lost me a little in the second part.

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