Book review: W J Burley — Wycliffe and the Guilt-edged Alibi

A fairly early entry in the Wycliffe series. This one was written in 1971, which affects the social assumptions underlying some of the plot. A woman’s body is recovered from the river, reviving old scandals that others would prefer to keep quiet. Caroline Bryce was the half-sister of an important politician, and the wife of one of the owners of a major employer in her village — but she had married her much older husband at a very young age, and was already pregnant when they married. Wycliffe has to disentangle the old secrets from the new in his search for the killer. Another death follows when it appears that he is getting close to the truth, and Wycliffe finds himself having to gamble more than once on finding adequate proof for something he suspects on skimpy evidence.

An excellent whodunnit with plenty of suspects and motives for Wycliffe and the reader to disentangle. Burley creates a strong sense of place with his depiction of the Cornish town of Treen, and some fascinating characters in the dysfunctional family that has been ripped apart by murder.

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