This cozy crime novel with its feisty heroine takes place in the 1950s. The austerities of postwar Britain created a variety of challenges for a population recovering from years of warfare. Mirabelle Bevan spent the war in Intelligence, rather than in the field. But since the death of her lover, all she wanted to do is flee her past life and forget. Belle finds a quiet, undemanding job in a debt collection office in Brighton, far away from London and all her old acquaintances.
For two years she lead an unexceptional life. But one day when her boss is absent, she is asked to collect a debt from Romano Laszlo, a pregnant Hungarian refugee who has moved to the coast to have her baby. Belle soon finds that the facts about; the woman don't add up, so she can't resist doiong a little detective work to discover the truth. She's joined in her investigations by a young insurance clerk from the office down the hall. Between them, they uncover a complex and deadly plot which involves the war, several corpses, a betting scam and a prostitution ring.
Brighton Belle is a light and pleasant read with plenty of color and action. The engaging Belle and the cast of characters kept me turning the pages. It is similar in tone to Mr. Churchill's Secretary with maybe a little more humor. I highly recommend it if you enjoy historical mysteries.
Author Sara Sheridan was born and lives in Edinburgh. She studied at Trinity College in Dublin and has received a Scottish Library Award and was shortlisted for the Saltire Book Prize.