Friday, October 24, 2014

A Commonplace Killing by Sian Busby

Paperback: 271 pages.
Genre:  Murder Mystery Fiction.
 Short Books Ltd (2 Jan 2014)
Source: Tywyn Public Library.
First Sentence: That neglected triangle, where the Camden, Holloway and Caledonian  Roads intersect, long oppressed by sot and the continuous rumble of the railway, its bounds set by the gloomy bulk of the women's prison and the desolation of the empty Livestock Market, had been done for long before the Hitler War blasted every last vestige of respectability to smithereens.
Review Quote: 
 "Brilliantly evoked" --Sunday Times
My Opinion: Well written but not one for me.

A novel I only read because it was a Book club choice, which I think may have been picked because the author had a deep pride in her Welsh farming roots. After all we are a Welsh based book club group. Murder stories are not a genre I read very often and if I do read one I prefer it to be a psychological thriller. No surprise then that I did not really enjoy this, although it is well written but not one for me, I actually found the Introduction and background information I have since read about Sian Busby much more interesting, than the novel itself. Setting my personal opinion aside, 'A Commonplace Killing' portrays the London of the postwar era really well, the character portrayals felt realistic as I was drawn into their world.

The protagonists all seem to lead a dreary life, lacking in love or humour, not surprising I suppose considering the conditions in post war London in 1946. Crime and corruption were rife and the future was not looking a happy one for any of them. The female protagonist is Lillian Frobisher whose story unfolds in parallel stories of the events leading up to her death and the investigation of her murder. Lillian Frobisher a local wife and mother is found on waste land near her home. When it is discovered that she was not the unwilling victim of a sexual assault, the investigation turns closer to home.

It is a sad story even more so when you bear in mind that the woman writing this novel, knew her own days were numbered. Somehow one just feels this is reflected in the writing, especially the whole pessimistic attitude surrounding the case. What do I mean, well you will have to read the novel to find out the details.

If murder stories are a genre you enjoy then this is worth reading for its realistic and dark truths.

Author Profile
Siân Elizabeth Busby (19 November 1960 – 4 September 2012) was a British writer. The daughter of the Canadian actor Tom Busby and Wendy Russell, she was educated at Creighton School in Muswell Hill and read English at Sussex University.
Originally embarking in a career in arts television, she later switched to writing. Her first two books were non-fiction. A Wonderful Little Girl (2003) concerned a Welsh child whose apparent ability to survive without nourishment led doctors to term the condition anorexia while The Cruel Mother (2004) was a semi-autobiographical account of child murder by one of Busby's ancestors. McNaughten (2009) concerned a mentally unstable 19th century woodcutter who was accused of attempting to assassinate Sir Robert Peel. 
Sian Busby was diagnosed as suffering from lung cancer in 2007, despite never having been a smoker. She finished her last book, ' A Commonplace Killing', shortly before she died. The book, describing the investigation into the murder of a woman in post-war London, was published in May 2013 and featured as BBC Radio Four's Book at Bedtime in June of the same year. Married to Robert Peston, the BBC's business editor, with whom she had a son. They had known each other since their teens, but rekindled their relationship after her friend, Peston's sister Juliet, was hospitalised after a road accident. Previously she had married and been divorced from the Dutch film maker Kees Ryninks, with whom she also had a son.

Obituary Daily Telegraph where much more can be learnt about her.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.

Goodreads - Author Profile   Daily Telegraph    Sian Busby - Wikipedia

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