An ex-policewoman in London disfigured by acid living in a bell tower, a sister’s violent murder witnessed by her son, and two mother’s who have no idea how poorly they have influenced their children. All of this centered around a London dating service that may be the key to everything. In BLIND DATE, Frances Fyfield has created some fabulous characters who keep you flipping pages to find out what’s next.
The story centers around the life of Elizabeth Kennedy. When we meet her she is recovering from an acid attack at her mother’s B&B; on the English coast. Also present is her dead sister’s young son who witnessed his mother’s murder. Elizabeth is determined to catch her sisters killer, not only because of family vengeance, but because while a policewoman, she may have driven the wrong suspect to take his own life. She is driven to know the truth as much as she is driven to carry out justice. There are family tensions and hidden family jewels to deal with by the seaside, so she flees back to London and her home atop a bell tower. Enter Joe, a mysterious handyman hired in her absence. He has an agenda, but what is it? Is he the killer? A journalist? A pervert? Elizabeth trusts him, but she’s not sure why, and the reader just wants these two to get together and solve the crime.
Amid all this, Joe and Elizabeth’s friends are visiting a dating service that may hold all the answers. The dancing around the fire by all the characters makes for interesting reading. And while Fyfield has that annoying English writer habit of making you guess which characters are talking in the beginning of the novel, and overall the killer’s motivation is a stretch, I really enjoyed reading this mystery on the basis of the strong character portrayals. The bell tower thing kept me going to. I would love to see Joe and Elizabeth team up for a sequel.

Jane Hinde

Spine Tingling Tales to Tell in the Dark
Eric B. Martin, Editor
Chronicle Books

Campfire Collection

While the title seems to suggest a collection of urban legends, these stories are not the tales of escaped lunatics with hooks for hands. They are tales of the human heart gone bad, or the beast who is true to his heart’s desire.
Broken into four sections, each delving into everything that can go wrong in the woods, The Elements, Beasts, The Unknown and Ourselves, the editor, Eric B. Martin has culled stories from fiction writers and diaries of the doomed. In The Elements there is “The Snow-Shoers” excerpted from George R. Stewart’s 1936 ORDEAL BY HUNGER and the failed attempt to reach the North Pole by Captain Robert Scott as well as fiction by Edgar Allen Poe and Jack London. The next section has a marvelous, Aesop style story by Paul Bowles entitled, “The Hyena.” The Unknown collection of stories is by far the creepiest with “They Bite” by Anthony Boucher being my favorite. “Hunters in the Snow”, in the Ourselves section is also a pretty creepy telling of male bonding gone bad during a hunting trip into the woods.
The book is sized and bound for backpack carrying and the stories are just right in length to read before bedtime. Good old fashioned fun.