Friday Forgotten Book: A Perfect Match by Jill McGown

this is the 205th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

perfect matchA Perfect Match by Jill McGown, Fawcett Crest 1983 mass market paperback, mystery, first in Detective Inspector Lloyd & Judy Hill series.

“The September dawn crept over the sky like water on blotting paper, spreading a fine, thin light to supplement the yellow glow of the street lighting. In the town centre shopping precinct, photo-cells registered the increase, and the anti-theft store lights clicked softly, obediently switching themselves off.”

Once again, a recent Friday Forgotten Book review encouraged me to find a copy of a book. This book, to be specific, and, as it was at hand, just having come in the mail, I read it and here are my thoughts.

This is the first in a series, and I never know quite what to make of a first-in-series book. Is the author experimenting with setting and characters? Is this a plot that came to the author like a bolt of lightening, some inspired idea, an epiphany ? Or has the writer cobbled something together between lunch and dinner? With a first in series novel, you never know. So I sat, I read and here’s what I think.

Stansfield is a small English town an hour’s drive, perhaps a bit more, from London. Detective Inspector Lloyd Hill works on major crimes, but murder isn’t common. So it’s an unpleasant surprise when the body of a woman, dead, naked, strangled, is found in the woods near the boating lake just outside of town. The relationships between the victim, the family with whom she has been staying, her solicitor, his wife, the mechanic at the local garage, the estate agent working to sell the boating property to the town are all very tangled. In fact, the primary element in this mystery is tangled relationships. I suggest the reader pay close attention to that early on, or things will seem even more complicated than they turn out to be, and that’s complicated indeed.

I liked the book enough to try the next in the series, though it’s a bit off-putting when I guess the murderer very early on. Not that the author didn’t try to trick me away from my early conclusion, but I wasn’t convinced.

Another thing I should mention is that some of the relationships I mentioned are between the Inspector and his “charming young detective sergeant” Judy Hill. I assume that continues in following books. So if you’re opposed to a bit of “relationship” in your mystery books, you’ve been warned.

While not great, this is good, pleasant reading. I expect better in the next book in the series, Murder at the Old Vicarage.

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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16 Responses to Friday Forgotten Book: A Perfect Match by Jill McGown

  1. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Just Lloyd. There is a big thing made throughout the series about what his first name is. It is finally revealed towards the end of the series. Judy Hill is the Sergeant and yes, they have a past (and future). Their relationship is a major ongoing subplot of the series.

    • Richard says:

      Jeff, I knew going in you liked this series, so perhaps I applied your high standards and expected more. Not that I disliked it, but I thought it would be better. I have the second book, and especially after reading Tracy’s comment will get to it soon after the beginning of the year.

      • Jeff Meyerson says:

        This was her first book and it was five years – and several non-series novels – before she came back to it. Maybe she’d figured out the problems by then. I must have liked them from the beginning as I read the first five of them one a month for five months. At the time of reading (1993) I had just switched to reading mostly British police novels, starting with Peter Robinson, Reginald Hill and Colin Dexter.

  2. I’m with you on identifying the murderer early on. It discourages me from reading more mysteries by that author.

    • Richard says:

      I’m no great shakes at seeing through plot turns, swings and convolutions, but this one just seemed so obvious I was almost convinced it just couldn’t be. I like matching my wits against the author and protagonist, but for me the book doesn’t live or die by that.

  3. Never read anything by McGown

  4. Matt Paust says:

    She’s new to me, too. As a reader I’m so good at suspending disbelief I rarely ever guess the murderer–even if all of the other characters have figured it out. I figure there’ll be an extra twisty twist at the end that fools everybody. Well, I’m exaggerating slightly. There’s been a time, maybe three, when my guess has proven a good one. And, yes, that can be disappointing, altho if the characters are interesting and the writing itself is good I can forgive fairly easily. McGown, eh? I’ll keep an eye out. Enjoyed the review.

  5. tracybham says:

    I like this series a lot. I enjoyed this book but I found it different from the later books in the series and I liked the rest of the books better. I usually do not like relationships in a series, but this one worked well for me. I did not guess the ending on this one.

    • Richard says:

      You’re the third person who has said this is a favorite series, so I guess I should cut the author more slack. I did like the character of Inspector Lloyd.

  6. Richard, I haven’t read many mysteries about detective couples, not necessarily in relationships. I’m not very good at guessing the identity of the murderer. I have never been able to do that in any of the Agatha Christie novels I read.

  7. Deb says:

    I’ve read them all, but–because of the inconsistencies in our library’s inventory–not always in order. The series definitely got better over time with McGown developing a much better sleight-of-hand technique. If you don’t plan to read the entire series and aren’t worried about order, I recommend THE MURDERS OF MRS. AUSTIN AND MRS. BEALE, A SHRED OF EVIDENCE, or VERDICT UNSAFE.

    • Richard says:

      Deb, thanks for dropping by! I usually try to read series in order, and usually don’t judge too heavily on the first book. I bought the second book with the first, but won’t read it until after the holidays. I really appreciate your suggestions, it’s very nice to know where a series strengths are.

  8. Cap'n Bob says:

    Good or bad, I don’t see one of these in my future.

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