Title: The Testimony of the Hanged Man
Author: Ann Granger
Series: Lizzie Martin #5
Genre: Historical Mystery
Summary (from Goodreads)
A hanged man would say anything to save his life. But what if his testimony is true? When Inspector Ben Ross is called to Newgate Prison by a man condemned to die by the hangman’s noose he isn’t expecting to give any credence to the man’s testimony. But the account of a murder he witnessed over seventeen years ago is so utterly believeable that Ben can’t help wondering if what he’s heard is true. It’s too late to save the man’s life, but it’s not too late to investigate a murder that has gone undetected for all these years.
I know we’re not supposed to judge books by their covers, but this book is basically exactly what you see on the cover. It’s a cozy cutesy mystery without much menace or page turning tension, but plenty of afternoon tea, ladies’ maids and cab rides.
It’s actually the fifth book in the series, which I didn’t know when I picked it up, but it didn’t really matter. It’s a stand alone tale, with some reference to stuff that’s gone on before, but not enough to be off putting or disorientating.
The historical flavour is fairly well woven in to the story – though at times it did feel a little like the characters said stuff or pointed things out purely as a means of shoehorning in some interesting titbit. The story does attempt to comment on women’s rights, and succeeds in illustrating how difficult life was for women back then – plot and sub plot revolve around women and their responses to difficult situations – but it wasn’t really a hard hitting enough story to really drive home some of those ideas. It was a bit like ‘oh, life was terrible for women, now have some more tea and scones.’
Which did make me feel the book was straddling a line between two things it was trying to be, and therefore not succeeding brilliantly at either. Adding in the women’s rights stuff tried to take it out of the cozy domain, while not quite taking it far enough to become something else. Which isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it – I did, it was an entertaining read, and good enough to pass a windy, cold February evening. It just felt a little jarring at times.
So, a good book, but a little odd. If you’re a big fan of the cozy, or looking for a fairly pleasant, easy going distraction, give it a read.