Inspector Ben Jurnet

Death and the Pregnant Virgin, by ST Haymon

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A couple of weekends ago, some Twitter posts from an arts and literature festival in Norfolk mentioning the 1980s crime novels of local author ST (Sylvia Theresa) Haymon were retweeted into my timeline and succeeded in piquing my interest. Upon further investigation I found that the first of the novels – Death and the Pregnant Virgin – was available in e-book format for just 59p, and for that sort of price it really did seem positively rude not to try it out.

In this story, a religious festival celebrating the recent discovery of the priceless Our Lady of Promise icon in the picturesque Norfolk country village of Mauthen Barbary is shockingly interrupted when one of the festival maidens is found bludgeoned to death in the shrine. She was also four months pregnant despite being a virgin, just the first of a series of revelations – and further deaths – to shake both the locals and Inspector Ben Jurnet.

The book feels distinctly old fashioned even allowing for the fact that it was written in 1980 – insert your own pun here about Norfolk being perennially 30 years behind the times at any given stage. Consequently it feels more like one of Agatha Christie’s vintage Miss Marple novels from the 1940s or 50s, with the suspects confined to an isolated rural community and the investigation very much revolving around means, motive and opportunities, which entails a lot of careful tracking of who was where and when with the more modern obsessions with forensics and DNA notably absent from consideration. Read the rest of this entry »