A Commonplace Killing by Sian Busby is a gritty, evocative, and addictive glimpse of life in London after the Second World War. The author writes with an eloquent beauty about the harsh realities of a time of displacement and post-war trauma. Each character is carefully sketched, whether likable or loathsome. Busby manages to capture the humanity of every character, so that the reader can relate to some aspect of them. The details of the crime and the subsequent investigation provide tension and propel the mystery forward, but the characters caught up in the aftermath are the real focus of the story. Two main characters, Lillian Frobisher, an unhappy housewife, and Detective Inspector Jim Cooper, a war veteran, are the reader’s two anchors throughout the story. You could read this novel as a gripping crime drama, a gritty mystery, or an expertly written character study, but the joy of reading it is that it provides all of these aspects in a beautifully written novel.
When Detective Inspector Jim Cooper is called to the scene of a crime, it is assumed that the woman just the victim of a commonplace crime, the kind that is becoming more and more prevalent in postwar London. However, Cooper, from the very start, believes there is more to the killing and begins unraveling the tangled mystery.
Set in the bleakness and confusion of post-WWII London, this gripping psychological thriller unravels the double life of a seemingly proper middle-class woman found strangled to death.
On a damp July morning in 1946, two schoolboys find a woman’s body in an abandoned churchyard in Holloway, north London. She had been strangled and left on a pile of rubble with her clothes and handbag left intact. The police assume that the victim, identified as Lillian Parry, was the random victim of an ex-serviceman looking for a cheap thrill, but the autopsy finds no evidence of sexual assault.
The mysterious case sets Divisional Detective Inspector Jim Cooper on a mad search for answers to the many questions surrounding the woman’s private life: How did Lil, who lived nearby with her family, come to be in the churchyard—a well-known lovers’ haunt? If she hadn’t been raped, why was she strangled? How could her husband have failed to notice that she never came home on the night she was murdered?
As DDI Cooper unravels the case, the facts point to a postwar world of disillusionment, bitterness, and emotional disturbance—a world where getting back to normal proves far more difficult than the cheerful optimism that the news reels suggest…
Brilliantly plotted, fast-paced, and utterly suspenseful, A Commonplace Killing interweaves an account of Lil’s last day with the mystery of the investigation into her murder. What results is a sweeping journey through post-war London that will intrigue and shock you through the very last page.