When Bill Billington is found dead in his home and it is discovered that he has been poisoned, his wife, Verity, is immediately suspected of his murder. Determined to find the real culprit herself, Verity employs the private detectives Emma Holmes and Sam Collins, pitting Emma against her own husband, one of the police officers involved in the case. With their friend, Max Mephisto currently filming a remake of Dracula with Bert Billington’s son, Seth, they hope that this will give them some inside information on the family, but is everyone telling the whole truth?
The sixth book in the Brighton Mysteries series takes us to 1965 and we are seeing more of the female characters as they come to the fore, investigating the suspicious death. In previous books, the main focus has been on Edgar Stephens and Max Mephisto and while Max does have a prominent role in The Midnight Hour, Edgar is more of a background character. It was joyous to read the role reversals as Emma travelled around the country while Edgar stayed at home to look after the children!
As we see women becoming more independent in 1965, there is a stark contrast made to how women were treated in the theatrical world back in Bert Billington’s heyday, a theme that, sadly, has continued and can be seen in the emergence of the ‘Me Too’ movement. It definitely made you wonder how Billington had lived as long as he did!
I really like how this series is developing and Elly Griffiths paints a wonderful picture of 1960s Britain, even referencing the real-life Moors Murders case which adds to the authenticity. I hope that this continues through the years as I look forward to seeing how the 1970s treats the characters.