The Mortal Sickness

by Andrew Taylor

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Featured image for The Mortal Sickness

This is the second volume in the Lydmouth series and had more depth to it than the first volume. Along with the central church based setting this felt more of the Roth Trilogy than An Air That Kills did.

Jill Francis is now permanently based at the Lydmouth Gazette, though she’s still staying with the paper’s owner and editor, Charlotte and Philip Wemyss-Brown. Charlotte’s politeness and care of Jill whilst wanting her out of the house at the same time portrays English manners very well to me. I presume the series is heading to the point where Jill gets involved with the married Inspector Thornhill and I’m a bit disappointed that Thornhill’s wife Edith isn’t featured more though perhaps letting the reader be sympathetic towards her (as she seemed quite nice to me in the first book) wouldn’t make too much sense.

I don’t remember any of the other characters I haven’t mentioned here from the first book but I hope some of the characters here recur in future books. I especially enjoyed meeting the vicar’s wife, Mary Sutton, who I think would make a good friend for Jill.

I did think the plot was a bit over busy with characters at some points though I had forgotten about the cast list in the front that would have helped me keep them straight. The only other thing that bugged me in the book really was the exceptionally short chapters and the division of the book into nine parts. This seemed to give the book a structure but I didn’t grasp what the structure was. Usually when a book has several parts there is an obvious change in the emphasis of the story or the narration from one part to another but here I didn’t have a clue as to why each part was demarcated from the previous part.

All in all a decent and enjoyable read though.