Welcome to the nbmagazine.co.uk stop on the blog tour for A Fatal Secret by Faith Martin!

Here’s a little info about the book:

Oxford, 1961

A family day out at Briar’s Hall ends in tragedy when a young boy goes missing – and his body is found at the bottom of a disused well in the orchard.

It looks like a simple case of an eleven-year-old exploring where he shouldn’t: a tragic accident. But Coroner Clement Ryder and Probationary WPC Trudy Loveday aren’t convinced. If Eddie had been climbing and fallen, why were there no cuts or dirt on his hands? Why would a boy terrified of heights be around a well at all?

Clement and Trudy are determined to get to the truth, but the more they dig into Briar’s Hall and the mysterious de Lacey family who live there, the murkier things become.

Could it be that poor Eddie’s death was murder? There are rumours of blackmail in the village, and Clement and Trudy have a horrible feeling that Eddie stumbled on a secret that someone was willing to kill for…

And about author Faith Martin:

Faith Martin has been writing for over 25 years, in four genres and under four different pen names. She was born in Oxford and sets most of her crime novels within sight of the city of dreaming spires. A real nature lover and afficionado of the countryside, descriptions of wildlife and native flora often find their way into her manuscripts.

And here’s Erin Britton’s review of A Fatal Secret:

A Fatal Secret is the fourth book in Faith Martin’s excellent Ryder and Loveday mystery series (the earlier books being A Fatal Obsession, A Fatal Mistake and A Fatal Flaw). Her detectives are an unusual pair – Trudy Loveday is a young probationary Woman Police Constable (WPC), while Clement Ryder is a retired surgeon turned coroner – who have a charming and undeniably effective working relationship. The series is set during the 1960s, which means that their investigations follow a decidedly different process to contemporary criminal cases (for example, conducting research in the public library and biking to the crime scene) and also allows Martin to explore a number of interesting social issues in addition to the central crime (for instance, WPCs are not dispatched to any potentially unpleasant or distasteful crimes).

Ryder and Loveday’s latest case starts with the disappearance of a young boy. Eleven-year-old Eddie Proctor was last seen taking part in an Easter egg hunt in the grounds of Briar’s Hall in Briar’s-in-the-Wold, a village on the outskirts of Oxford. WPC Loveday and her fellow officers are dispatched to help look for the boy, but their search ends in tragedy when they find his body at the bottom of a well in a nearby orchard. The boy’s death is ruled to be an accident but his father isn’t satisfied with that finding – Eddie was a sensible lad who happened to be scared of heights; he wouldn’t have been messing around near the top of a well. Vincent Procter asks his boss, Martin de Lacey, owner of Briar’s Hall, if anything further can be done to look into Eddie’s death and, in turn, Martin de Lacey asks his good friend the chief constable for help.

The chief constable knows just who to turn to in a sensitive case such as this: Clement Ryder, a coroner with a knack for solving crimes that the police consider to be unsolvable. Ryder jumps at the chance to investigate Eddie’s death and requests that WPC Loveday be released from her normal duties so that she can assist him. Loveday’s boss, DI Jennings, doesn’t know whether to be pleased to be rid of her for a few days or annoyed that Ryder is interfering in police matters again, but he can’t argue with the will of the chief constable, so Ryder’s request is granted. Ryder and Loveday head to Briar’s Hall to investigate, troubled by the knowledge that if Eddie’s death wasn’t an accident, then is must have been murder. But who would want to kill the young boy? Is it possible that he stumbled on a secret that someone was desperate to keep? They have a horrible feeling that the case is going to prove both difficult and tragic.

A Fatal Secret is another intriguing case that would have quickly fallen off the police radar if not for the intervention of Ryder and Loveday (with a little prompting from concerned members of the public, of course). Although the signs do point to Eddie’s death having been an accident, there is still something decidedly odd about the whole business, and their initial investigations in both the village and the big house suggest to Ryder and Loveday that there a number of dodgy dealings going down in Briar’s-in-the-Wold. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that there are a fair few potential suspects for them to pursue in the village, even if they are still unsure exactly what Eddie might have discovered that could have led to his murder. Martin de Lacey has told his family and his servants to cooperate with the investigation, but it seems that many of them have secrets to hide. Ryder and Loveday are going to have to work their way through plenty of red herrings before they get close to the truth.

Although it is the fourth book in the series, A Fatal Secret can certainly be read as a standalone story. The mystery surrounding Eddie’s death can be enjoyed (and solved) without prior knowledge of the series, but certain issues do unfold concerning the characters of Ryder and Loveday and their working relationship that relate back to the earlier books, especially in terms of Ryder’s health and Loveday’s struggle to balance her professional life with her personal life. Saying that, Faith Martin provides enough clues and information regarding past events that readers new to the series shouldn’t become confused. This fourth outing actually feels like a particularly important stage in the evolution of Ryder and Loveday as a detective duo – they both arrive at important personal realisations over the course of their investigation and they are both forced to recognise the limits of their abilities with regards to bringing criminals to justice.

At the heart of A Fatal Secret is an intriguing mystery featuring plenty of twists and turns, and Martin has managed to work in a good number of suspicious characters and potential motives for murder. Ryder and Loveday continue to work really well together and it is a pleasure to follow their investigation, although it’s also a bit of a concern that secrets might be pushing them apart somewhat. It will certainly be interesting to see what the next book in the series has in store for them.

Erin Britton 4*

A Fatal Secret by Faith Martin
HQ Digital B07NCRB4X5 ebook Sep 2019