Arnold Landon is a quiet, unassuming man in the planning permission office in Northumberland. An application to change the user of farmland takes an unexpected turn when Arnold visits the site. He discovers a wonderful historic barn which he believes should be preserved but others disagree with murderous consequences…
Murder in the Barn is a slow burn of a murder mystery novel. The actual murder doesn’t happen until halfway through. But I found myself completely enthralled by the planning permission saga that evolves in the first half. Initially, I had no idea who the victim or culprit could be! However my detective brain went into overdrive! I worked it out before the end which made me feel proud of myself but didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book itself.
Arnold’s character is wonderful and I warmed to him when he unleashes his passion for historic craftsmanship. He gives a few empassioned speeches which really made him come to life. His quirkiness and the uniqueness of his hobby as well as the emotional background to it make Arnold seem very human and realistic.
There is very little violence or forensic detail despite the murder. Instead, the emphasis is on the establishment of Arnold as an interesting lead and his uncovering of possible mottives. The dialogue feels natural which adds to the believability of the characters and the plot.
Murder in the Barn was originally published in the 1980s and it is enjoyable to return to a time with no mobile phones or social media. It is also the first book in a series of more than 20 books so I can’t wait to read more!
I have previously reviewed Murder in the Mine by Roy Lewis.
MURDER IN THE BARN
With no academic background Arnold Landon works in the Planning Department in Northumberland while pursuing his own passion for mediaeval structures. He is sent to look into the details of a planning application for change of use and is delighted to discover the Old Wheat Barn on the farm. But he soon learns of the enmity existing between the Kelvin and Rampton families and the involvement of Brandling Leisure Pursuits and its owner whose reputation is somehow involved with a gangland killing at Scotswood Bridge.
When he is involved in a TV dispute with renowned academic Professor Fisher it seems unrelated to a personal attack upon himself but worse is to follow when he stumbles across a corpse at the Old Wheat Barn. Amid the prosaic proceedings of the planning enquiry in which he is deeply involved he finally discovers the truth behind the application and the murder—and that the solution lies in the Old Wheat Barn whose age he has correctly identified.
Somewhat inhibited, aware of his lack of academic background he works as a planning officer in the north east of England but as a self-taught archaeologist he confounds academic experts with his detailed knowledge, which involves him in a local murder. His expertise brings him promotion in due course to the Archaeology Department where he meets frustration, which he nevertheless overcomes by making important discoveries of ancient artefacts while playing a leading role in solving local crimes. As succession of opportunities for further promotion pass him by because of his desire to remain in touch with the detailed history of sites in Northumberland and this leads to further conflict, first with his inadequate superior and then with the stunningly beautiful Karen Stannard and, later in his career, the Italian archaeologist Carmela Cacciatore.
Roy Lewis Author Bio:
Roy Lewis is a well-established crime writer with 60 novels to his name. He lives in the north of England where he sets many of his books. He is a former college principal and Inspector of Schools who now runs business training programmes and has business interests in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. Roy has three children – all of them lawyers.