A Private Prosecution

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Pan Macmillan, Feb 14, 2013 - Fiction - 216 pages
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Autumn in a seaside town, and four young girls are found strangled. Each body bears the ‘signature’ of a killer whom the media soon dub the Monster, and Detective Chief Superintendent Maurice Kendrick is driven by his sense of outrage into obsessive pursuit of the murderer.

A fifth killing, gruesomely different from the others, drives his friend Humphrey Barnes into an obsession, too – to disprove his fear that a beloved member of the victim’s family may know something about the murders.

Another death, and the ordeal of a girl who escapes, solve the riddle of the Monster, but this is just the beginning of the separate efforts of the two friends to get to the truth of the fifth murder – Kendrick through orthodox police methods, Humphrey through his tortured contacts with the victim’s unhappy family. Since Kendrick’s wife left him Humphrey has become his confidant, but he keeps his unofficial ideas to himself as he listens reluctantly to the progress of the Chief Superintendent’s official investigations. This time his intuition is not at the service of the police.

It is a race for the truth which only Humphrey knows they are running, and for one of them the final grim revelation represents a hollow victory.

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The plot: four young girls are found strangled and each body bears the signature of a killer who is dubbed 'the Monster' by the press. Then a fifth killing occurs whihc is different from the others ... Read full review

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About the author (2013)

An only child, Eileen Dewhurst was self-sufficient and bookish from an early age, preferring solitude or one-to-one contacts to groups, and hating sport. Her first attempts at writing were not auspicious. At 14, a would-be family saga was aborted by an uncle discovering it and quoting from it choked with laughter. A second setback came a few years later at school, when a purple passage was returned with the words 'Cut this cackle!' written across it in red ink: a chastening lesson in how embellishments can weaken rather than strengthen one’s message.

Eileen read English at Oxford, and afterwards spent some unmemorable years in 'Admin' before breaking free and dividing her life in two: winters in London doing temporary jobs to earn money and experience, summers at home as a freelance journalist, spinning 'think pieces' for the Liverpool Daily Post and any other publications that would take them, and reporting on food and fashion for the long defunct Illustrated Liverpool News, as well as writing a few plays.

Her first sustained piece of writing was a fantasy for children which was never published but secured an agent. Her Great Autobiographical Novel was never published either, although damned with faint praise and leading to an attempt at crime writing that worked: over the next thirty years she produced almost a book a year and also published some short stories in anthologies and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.

Eileen has always written from an ironic stance, never allowing her favourite characters to take themselves too seriously: a banana skin is ever lurking.

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