My entry this week for Patti Abbott’s Forgotten Books is a title which dates back just 18 years. In Stony Places by Kay Mitchell was a follow-up to A Lively Form of Death, which came out the previous year in 1990, and which introduced Chief Inspector John Morrissey. He is a likeable chap, deftly yet economically characterised.
In this book, young girls are being murdered in Malminster, and Morrissey is faced ot only with the challenge of hunting down the killer (the only clue is mention in a diary of one of the victims of someone called Rob) but also of protecting his own family. It’s a taut story, relatively swift and short, and there is a touch of realism about the way chance plays a part in the apprehension of the culprit – shades, as Morrissey reflects, of the Yorkshire Ripper case.
I enjoyed this book when it first came out and I got to know Kay, and her husband, who during the early and mid 90s were regular attenders at CWA events in the north of England. Kay seemed destined for stardom – a good writer who had two series on the go once she started to write novels under the name of Sarah Lacey. But after five novels appeared under her own name, and five under Lacey’s, she blipped off the radar as far as crime fiction is concerned. A real shame, as I found her a very pleasant companion.
I haven’t heard of Kay for a long time, unfortunately, and she left the CWA some years ago, but I was reminded of her (and prompted to write this blog post) when asked the other day about her by a connoisseur of good crime fiction. He told me there is some uncertainty as to whether the final Lacey, File Under Justice, was actually published. Maybe readers of this blog know the answer – it’s not a book I ever came across. But In Stony Places is a testament to a significant talent.