The Murderess by Jennifer Wells
From my own TBR pile
1931: Fifteen-year-old Kate witnesses her mother Millicent push a stranger from a station platform into the path of an oncoming train. There was no warning, seemingly no reason, and absolutely no remorse.
1940: Exactly nine years later, Kate returns to the station and notices a tramp laying flowers on the exact spot that the murder was committed; the identity of the victim, still remains unknown.
With a country torn apart by war and her family estate and name in tatters, Kate has nothing to lose as she attempts to uncover family secrets that date back to the Great War and solve a mystery that blights her family name.
The novel is set between two timelines 1931 and 1940. It surrounds the childhood and adult life of Kate Bewsey and the mystery that has blighted her life. Kate has grown up in having known wealth and luxury. Living her life at ‘The Grange’ her parents estate in Missensham town. The Grange was once a hot spot of social activity. Parties, cocktails and jazz. Now it just reminds them, of all they have lost since that fateful day; her mother pushed a young woman to her death!
‘My life would not be the same after that day’ – Kate
Kate had an unusual relationship with her mother, her entire childhood. With her mother viewing her more of a possession and smothering her with her love.
‘Always remember you are mine’ – Millicent Bewsey
The novel opens in May 1940, with Kate arriving at Missensham rail station. Awaiting the arrival of her aunt Audrey and cousin Jemima, she notices a homeless man. The man is dressed in the attire of a veteran of the great war and it is this, that catches Kate’s eye at first. He is laying flowers, red peonies and it is then, that Kate recalls the date.
In 1931 a young teenage Kate witnessed her mother greet a woman at the rail station. They discussed the timetable and then for no known reason, Millicent pushed the woman from the platform onto the tracks and into the path of an incoming train. The story created a huge scandal with stories of the ‘well-bred’ woman with murder on her mind. Kate’s mother remains at Holloway prison and has never spoken of the incident.
‘As far as I am concerned, I no longer have a mother’ – Kate
Kate still lives at The Grange, but she is no longer the young lady of the estate. Kate and her father live in the basement, the old servant’s quarters. It is only through the charitable acts of her aunt Audrey, they have kept The Grange in the family.
There life is one of poverty, isolation and waiting.
Despite it having been nine years, since the murder and Kate now being a young woman of 25yrs. It is remembered annually in the newspaper, much to Audrey’s disgust. But this year there is some added news, as Millicent is due a parole hearing and possible release on the tenth anniversary of the crime.
Kate’s father requests that she visit the prison, in the hope at getting a statement from her mother. Which may help with her release.
But Kate refuses to assist in any way shape of form.
‘That woman should have hung’ – Kate
The emotional pull of the entire situation, leads Kate to investigate. Why did her mother push the woman onto the tracks? Who was the victim? And who is the homeless man? What do the flowers mean?
Kate returns to the station to enquire about the homeless man. She learns via the station master that he appears every year, on the anniversary of the murder. At a second glance Kate notices the card on the flowers.
‘For my darling Rosaline’
This becomes the first piece in the mystery and Kate becomes hellbent on solving the secrets that surround her mother’s life. But can Kate uncover the reasons for the murder? And can she live with the truth?
‘Who really ever knew your mother’ – Audrey
This novel is a slow-burning, cosy mystery that is perfect reading for a Sunday afternoon. It has emotionally charged scenes, that are very well written. My heart really warmed to Kate and I longed for her to solve the questions and set her mind to rest. There is a huge twist in the novel halfway through and this has been expertly done by the author. It adds so much more depth to the narratives. It builds and builds to a dramatic and shocking ending.
A family legacy laid bare 4*