Life is dangerous. No one survives it. Enora Andressen makes a series of mind-blowing discoveries when her friend disappears.
Actress Enora Andressen is catching up with her ex-neighbour, Evelyn Warlock, who’s recently retired to the comely East Devon seaside town of Budleigh Salterton. The peace, the friendship of strangers and the town’s prestigious literary festival . . . Evelyn loves them all.
Until the September evening when her French neighbour, Christianne Beaucarne, disappears. Enora has met this woman. The two of them have bonded. But what Enora discovers over the anguished months to come will put sleepy Budleigh Salterton on the front page of every newspaper in the land
Graham Hurley is an award-winning TV documentary maker who now writes full time. His Faraday and Winter series won two Theakstons shortlist nominations and was successfully adapted for French TV. He has since written a quartet of novels featuring D/S Jimmy Suttle, and three WW2 novels, the first of which – Finisterre – was shortlisted for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize. The first three titles in the Enora Andressen series, Curtain Call, Sight Unseen and Off Script, are also available from Severn House. After thirty years in Portsmouth, Graham now lives in East Devon with his wife, Lin.
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The story begins with Enora heading to Prague with her partner’s ashes, only to be stopped at customs and told she can’t take the ashes on board. Rather than leave them behind, she instead leaves the airport and sets off to visit her friend, Evelyn, in Budleigh Salterton.
The opening scenes are beautifully written, drawing me effortlessly into Evelyn’s relaxed lifestyle away from her previous life in London. Enora is welcomed by Evelyn’s friends , especially her French neighbour, Christianne, with whom she can chat in French and enjoy their shared cultural heritage.
Then Christianne disappears. Has she taken her own life? Enora learns that Christianne has Motor Neurone disease, for which there is no cure. But was she so desperate to end her life? Did Christianne’s partner, Andy, know of her plans? Did he help her? Was he alone?
Limelight raise many issues as the police investigate first Christianne’s disappearance, and then later her death. Suspicions abound among the close-knit community and the police seemed determined to find someone to charge with the “crime”. Are Evelyn’s other friends complicit in Christianne’s death? (Evelyn herself is never implicated, yet Enora who has only recently met Christianne is … because of the very close (and French) friendship they had formed. To me, that felt a little forced to propel the plot forward, but as I’ve not read any of this author’s previous books, I don’t whether that is his style of storytelling.
The police investigation is also a little contrived and, for me, seems an unlikely portrayal of how a police force would investigate such a case. That said, with fiction, anything is possible.
This is a slow-burner of a mystery, with a very understated crime at its core. The debate as to whether there has been a crime at all does form a central feature of the story. Of course, it’s a valid discussion point, and I congratulate the author in weaving the theme of euthanasia into his mystery so beautifully.
Limelight is a gentle mystery with a solid message about euthanasia. It encourages discussion well beyond the last page which can only be a good thing. There’s a heart-warming element to the story when looking at how the friendship of Evelyn and Enora has lasted, and how strong the community spirit and commitment to each other is in Budleigh Salterton.
The characters meander through the story, ably assisted by beautiful prose, stunning scenery, and a vibe that is captivating and engaging. Not your average crime mystery at all, but one that will keep you thinking about the story even when you’ve finished reading.
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