Sunday, May 19, 2024

29. The Chill and the Kill by Joan Fleming

Great cover, but come on
This is the second of the two Joan Fleming books that I bought based on the cover and the blurbs (very briefly skimmed) alone.  It's a different story and situation, but the books are very similar in their broad construction.  Both are wrapped up in the trappings and conventions of genre but really the bulk of the book is just about a bunch of interesting people in their environment.  The cover here is particularly egregious in how what it communicates has almost nothing to do with the actual book.

The main narrative is about a young adolescent girl in a small country town in England, who when struck by the Vicar's car, develops precognition.  This shows itself immediately when upon awaking and seeing the locum (new word for me, in this case it is the temporary doctor replacing the regular one), she announces that he will be found dead in the woods in a few weeks.  This indeed happens and she starts to become a sensation.  There is also eventually a murder (of which she also had a vision), but it happens almost at the very end of the book, with a few chapters of mystery speculation and then it is all resolved.

Most of the book, which is quite engaging, though is about the small town of Marklane, the various characters (with an emphasis on her family and the aristocratic family of the town) and their relationships.  The girls ESP powers are the thing that hangs it all together and create some change/conflict, but the book would have been probably 90% as enjoyable without that or the murder mystery.  I get the feeling Fleming had all this local life in her to write about but needed marketable elements to hang it on.  These aren't masterpieces of daily life, more like a pleasant and engrossing few hours in a gentle little British village. Not a bad way to spend the time.

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