The story opens in September 1953, when the body of 14-year-old Beverly Middleton is discovered in the driveway of a holiday home in Mr Martha. Without the benefits of modern day forensics, and confused by contradictory witness reports and mysterious phone calls – possibly from the murderer – police are unable to solve the case.
Sixty years after the murder, junior academic and PhD candidate, Nick Szabo is embarking on research into the Hungarian water polo team defectors during the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. During his interviews with retiree Arthur Boyle, their discussions turned to the violent crimes occurring around the time of the Games. Boyle was particularly concerned about the murder Ms Middleton, a former work colleague of his. As Boyle unpacks his memories of the events of the day, he comes to suspect that the murderer may be someone ‘close to home’.
Murder in Mt Martha is a captivating and entertaining novel based on a 1953 unsolved murder of a young girl. The novel successfully combines first person reflections of the murderer, Boyle’s recollections his life at the time, and the daily struggles of Szabo to keep the audience on its toes. The novel is replete with noir-style deceptions and lies and family secrets at all plot levels. Simpson’s style of writing is engaging and her characters are believable but not always likeable (mercifully). The descriptions of 1950s life in Melbourne’s inner northern suburbs (and pre-Fitzgerald Inquiry Townsville) are well researched and provide insight into those moments in time. We look forward to more crime offerings from Simpson.
Murder in Mt Martha is the debut crime noir novel, by author Janice Simpson. The book was published in April 2016 by Hybrid Publishers. The novel received several reviews:
- Fair Dinkum Crime https://fairdinkumcrime.com/category/author/janice-simpson/
- Sisters in Crime https://www.sistersincrime.org.au/murder-in-mt-martha-janice-simpson/
- Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29457414-murder-in-mt-martha#other_reviews
- Austcrime Fiction http://www.austcrimefiction.org/review/review-murder-mt-martha-janice-simpson
- Fully Booked https://fullybooked2017.wordpress.com/2016/12/20/murder-in-mt-martha-between-the-covers/
The book is available through Amazon, Book Depository and all good bookstores.
Janice Simpson is a Melbourne based writer with a background in university teaching and educational publishing. Her books include a travel memoir Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (2012) about her bicycle trip from Paris to Istanbul, and All the Good Ones Aren’t Taken about the singles industry (1997). Janice teaches at RMIT, is a national co-convenor of Sisters in Crime and is completing her PhD in creative writing.