Losing Ground by Catherine Aird

This is the first book by Catherine Aird which I have read and it was first published in 2007. I don’t read an awful lot of contemporary crime novels, I really prefer vintage crime but strangely this book had a very old-fashioned feel about it, although it’s only six years old.

Since it was written the economic world has gone into meltdown so the whole premise of the book is unrealistic now. Tolmie Park is a large house and estate, in semi-derelict condition, but it was where Jason Burke had played as a child and since then he had always wanted to own the place. Burke is better known as a pop star with the unlikely name of Kevin Cowlick.

Two building companies are also after the estate, hoping to snap the land up for housing and make huge profits. When fire breaks out in the house the police have plenty of suspects, and the discovery of bones in the wreckage adds to their problems. A local pressure group is also involved in trying to stop the house from being demolished.

At the same time as all this was happening a portrait including a depiction of the house was stolen from a local museum. What links the crimes?

Obviously building firms have been going bankrupt and generally having a tough time of things since 2008 and the collapse of the banks and property, so it was strange to be reading about a situation which wouldn’t arise nowadays, but that’s fair enough. The thing which I really didn’t like was the name Kevin Cowlick it just grated on my ears and an editor should have told Catherine Aird that in 2007 pop stars didn’t go in for daft names, in fact that was never going to be a good name for anyone, but editors don’t seem to exist now. I put that name down to the fact that Aird was born in 1930 so is far removed from pop stars and their ways.

Otherwise I quite enjoyed the book, all the way through it I was thinking I would give it about 3 out of 5 but it deserves a bit more because the ending was a bit of a surprise, always a good thing.

Moffat and no books

We stopped off at Moffat on our way down to the Lake District, it’s a pretty area and it has a second-hand bookshop. The author D.E. Stevenson lived there and is buried in the town. We parked the car in the High Street and within three seconds of getting out of the car we got into conversation with a local. This is something which would never happen in Fife – it taking a lang spoon and all that. Anyway, after the usual weather observations – well we are British – which included the info that we had come from Kirkcaldy, the chap said that he had been to Kirkcaldy once and it had been shut! Queue laughter!

However, I felt like tracking him down to tell him that Moffat was shut – as indeed it was! Apparently Wednesday is half day closing, but a lot of the shops hadn’t bothered opening up at all, including the bookshop. What a disappointment.

Moffat Book shop door

But as you can see from the notices on the door, there’s quite a lot going on in the wee town. Well they have a murder evening and a quiz night anyway.

In fact we should have taken this as a bad omen because there were hardly any bookshops in the Lake District, it would seem that hill-walking and outdoor pursuits don’t go hand in hand with reading books.

There was a big bookshop in Whitehaven, which is quite off the tourist beaten track but although there were loads of books I only found one which I wanted to buy, and it wasn’t one I even knew about, but it was a D.E. Stevenson as it happens, called The Musgroves. I think that it isn’t one of her amusing ones though, it looks like a slushy romance, but it may just be that it has a terrible cover.

Apart from a book for one of my sons which I bought at Grasmere, that was it bookwise. Absolutely pitiful as I usually come home with an armful of treasures. When we got home I did manage to buy an old copy of J.B. Priestley’s Faraway, which I found in Kirkcaldy High Street of all places. The wee tobacconist at the east end has loads of books at the back of the shop, it was a complete revelation to us as we thought that he only had the few which he has in the window.

I don’t know why I’m complaining because I have hundreds of books at home, waiting to be read and I’ve just picked up Raven Black by Ann Cleeves and Losing Ground by Catherine Aird. I’ve also requested a couple of books by Joyce Dennys – Henrietta’s War and Henrietta Sees It Through. I haven’t read anything by any of those authors before, they’re all blogger recommendations.

Meanwhile my reading rate has slowed right down, I’ve been reading Georgette Heyer’s Duplicate Death for about a week now, that’s what happens when you go away.