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The Murder Map by Danny Miller

When an art dealer with a seemingly dodgy past is found dead at his own home, it is initially thought that his demise is due to a heart attack, brought on by his drinking habits. After signs of a break-in are discovered, and a worthless painting is found to be missing, however, Detective Inspector Frost suspects foul play and so begins an investigation against the wishes of his superintendent. Meanwhile, an infamous criminal, released from prison, arrives back in the area. Has he really turned over a new leaf or is this some elaborate ploy? When a girl is abducted from outside of a school, and bodies start turning up in Denton Woods, everything seems to lead back to the death of the art dealer, Ivan Fielding. Will Frost be able to unlock the past before there are more deaths?

I’ve always loved the Frost books by R D Wingfield and the subsequent TV series starring David Jason, so I was pleased to see that Danny Miller has continued to write about this legendary character. The character of Frost is well-written and it is easy to picture the detective whilst reading although he is more like the detective from the TV series than the Wingfield novels. I particularly enjoyed the scenes where he is trying to avoid his female neighbour – this was Frost at his best.

Although the plot was an interesting one, and a novel concept, I did find the number of characters confusing at times and had to keep reminding myself of who everybody was. I did like how all the plots intertwined and feel that with fewer characters, this would have worked just as well.

Despite this not being my favourite in the series, it was still very readable and it is always good to meet Inspector Frost again.

With thanks to Random House UK and Net Galley for my copy.

Teacher, Teacher! by Jack Sheffield

The year is 1977 and Jack Sheffield has just started a new job as head teacher at Ragley Primary School in North Yorkshire. Teacher, Teacher! is the story of his first year in the post, showing how the young, inexperienced teacher deals with the staff, parents and pupils along with the numerous colourful characters of the local village.

Although I mainly read crime and thriller books, occasionally I like to venture into something a little more light-hearted so when I saw Teacher, Teacher! on The Works website, it looked right up my street. As someone who grew up after the time the book is set but remembers primary school with fondness, I looked forward to the book taking me right back to simpler times. As someone who works in education, I was also intrigued to see how schools today compared to Ragley in the 1970s.

Teacher, Teacher! is filled with laugh out loud moments from a cast of larger than life characters. A vivid picture has been painted of life in the school and it was easy to imagine people such as Ruby, the caretaker, and Mrs. Brown, the parent nobody wants to speak to at parents’ evening. There were numerous amusing tales of events such as the school camping trip and sports day – all before the days of health and safety and risk assessments!

The book also has its more poignant moments, the standout ones for me being Jack’s visit to a local special school where he spent his time dancing with a severely disabled child who could only ‘dance with her eyes’. This was a truly beautiful scene. I also enjoyed reading about Ping, a Vietnamese refugee who spent a short time at Ragley school. Both of these stories showed how important a nurturing environment is to children – a stark contrast to the current trend of testing and reducing children to statistics.

Teacher, Teacher! is a heart-warming read and I have already purchased the next in the series.

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