John Buxton Hilton (1921-1986) was a popular and fairly prolific crime writer, but I'd never got around to reading him until my recent trip to Norway. Those enterprising publishers Bello, an arm of Pan Macmillan, have produced ebook versions of many of his novels, and whilst I was away I read two entries in his series featuring the senior cop Simon Kenworthy, starting with The Anathema Stone, which is my Forgotten Book for today.
This is one of those stories where the series detective takes a holiday. Kenworthy and his wife Elspeth take a cottage in a Derbyshire village, and before long Kenworthy become embroiled in mysterious goings-on. He is targeted by a pretty teenage girl, whose behaviour ir rather disturbing, and also finds himself taking part (with her) in a rehearsal for a play written by the eccentric local vicar.
When the girl is found dead, her corpse draped over the legendary Anathema Stone, Kenworthy finds himself dragged into the inquiry in different ways. There are some suspicions about the nature of his relationship with the girl (and I did wonder if Hilton would have written this book in quite the same way today, when there is so much sensitivity about child abuse, following so many well-documented tragic stories) and also a good deal of mystery about the motive for the crime.
I felt this book was rather idiosyncratic in style, storyline, and structure, but I enjoyed it. Hilton was an above-average writer, and whilst I was expecting a rather conventional small village mystery, he delivered something more unusual than that. As a result, I was keen to sample his work again, and did just that a couple of days later - to find myself reading a very different sort of story.