19 Nov 2021


 One of several bloggers who over ten days will be participating in this Blog Tour (the full list of which can be found in the Schedule at the bottom of the post). Today {the 4th day of the Tour) its my pleasure to be sharing my thoughts on ...


Genre ... Historical mystery

Publication Date ... 25th March 2021

Standalone Novel

Estimated Page Count ... 215

Potential Content Warning ... Child murder and details of murder scenes

Purchase Link ... mybook.to/TheCustardCorpses

Birmingham, England, 1943.

While the whine of the air raid sirens might no longer be rousing him from bed every night, a two-decade-old unsolved murder case will ensure that Chief Inspector Mason of Erdington Police Station is about to suffer more sleepless nights.

Young Robert McFarlane’s body was found outside the local church hall on 30th September 1923. But, his cause of death was drowning, and he’d been missing for three days before his body was found. No one was ever arrested for the crime. No answers could ever be given to the grieving family. The unsolved case has haunted Mason ever since.

But, the chance discovery of another victim, with worrying parallels, sets Mason, and his constable, O’Rourke, on a journey that will take them back over twenty-five years, the chance to finally solve the case, while all around them the uncertainty of war continues, impossible to ignore. ... Synopsis

He looked at the man through narrowed eyes, noting the fine weave on his suit, his knee-high brown riding boots with wry amusement. ... First Sentence {Prologue}

Sam looked between the two, forehead furrowed before his mouth dropped open in shock at the similarities. The two drawings could almost be identical if not for the hockey stick in the girl's hand on the advert and the small bowl of enticing yellow custard gleaming in the bottom right corner. Then he was beside Annie on the floor, pulling the pile of old Picture Post magazines towards him. ... Memorable Moment {Page 97}

MY THOUGHTS ... A historical police procedural involving a 'cold case', that of the murder of a seven year old child; its worth noting that whilst The Custard Corpses features child murders it is not  graphic and in no way is it gratuitous.

Why the the unusual title though, I hear you ask.

I know, intriguing isn't it. Let's just say that all is revealed ... 

An excellent plot, the author cleverly weaving the clues into the story, that the the killer and their motives are largely absent making it impossible to solve the mystery of this cold case until the last page  ... well, this is something your either going to love or hate. For myself, hmm!

As the book progressed with no resolution in sight, I  found myself feeling somewhat frustrated, that there wasn't any real heart-stopping resolution ... Meh! I admit to being ever so slightly disappointed. 

HOWEVER, solved without the use of modern forensics, neigh not even so much as a computer, things were done the old fashioned way {aided by copious amounts of tea drinking of course}, I found myself really enjoying the investigatory process and then of course there was the fact that ...


Set against the backdrop of WWII, I loved the wartime aspect; the amazing insight into the life of war time Britain and the way in which the author deftly used this to demonstrate how these experiences shaped its characters and, in particular, Chief Inspector Sam Mason. That it isn't romanticised like so many WWII book that have flooded the market recently, positively refreshing.

And then, though I'm not overly convinced that WPC Higham, as a female officer, would have had quite as much responsibility {but I stand to be corrected on this} and there were one or two words and phrases that were surely too modern for the book's 1940's setting; {'sicko' which, if the Merriam-Webster dictionary is to believed, the first known usage of was 1963, being the main culprit} there were the distinct, well fleshed out characters with their by and large authentic voices.


ABOUT MJ PORTER ... I'm an author of historical fiction (Early English, Vikings and the British Isles as a whole before the Norman Conquest) and fantasy (Viking age/dragon-themed). I’ve recently written a relatively modern mystery novel set in 1943. I was born in the old Mercian kingdom at some point since 1066. Raised in the shadow of a strange little building, told from a very young age that it housed the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia and that our garden was littered with old pieces of pottery from a long-ago battle, it's little wonder that my curiosity in Early England ran riot. I can only blame my parents!

I write A LOT. You've been warned!

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Kelly said...

I'm not sure about this one. In some ways it appeals, but "cold case" mysteries can be tricky. (as are "locked room" murders) It's well and good to have things fall into place at the end, but I also enjoy the journey with its clues and deviations. I guess it would just come down to how good the police procedural part is.

ashok said...

Visiting you after a long time.. How alls well.

nightwingsraven said...

Even though keeping in mind what
you said about your frustration
about the resolution. This sounds
like an interesting and good story
with realistic characters. Which I
will keep in mind. And thank you
for your excellent review.

M J Porter said...

Thank you for hosting The Custard Corpses. 👍

sherry fundin said...

thanks for the chuckle over the title. :-)
sherry @ fundinmental