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Thursday, September 8, 2016

International Literacy Day - Review of A DREADFUL MURDER by Minette Walters

Today, September 8, is the United Nations’ International Literacy Day; its purpose is “to raise people's awareness of and concern for literacy issues in the world.”

“Whether it’s reading or writing, literacy is an outlet to an untouchable world – your imagination. Not only is literacy a basic human right, it is a fundamental building block for learning as well as a personal empowerment tool. It is the catalyst for social and global progress” (http://internationalliteracyday.org/).

To celebrate the day, I read a novella which was published as part of the British “Quick Reads,” a series of short books by bestselling authors and celebrities “designed to encourage adults who do not read often, or find reading tough, to discover the joy of books” (http://www.quickreads.org.uk/).

Review of A Dreadful Murder by Minette Walters
3 Stars
A Dreadful Murder: The Mysterious Death of Caroline Luard (Quick Reads 2013) by [Walters, Minette]This is the fictionalized story of the murder of Caroline Luard who was shot and killed on August 25, 1908 at an isolated summerhouse in Kent.  She and her husband, Charles Luard, were pillars of late-Victorian society.  A vitriolic letter-writing and whispering campaign suggested Charles was the murderer:  “As if a close-knit family had turned on itself because no one believed the victim had been killed by an outsider.  Instead of peace, there was war.  Instead of mutual support, there was suspicion.”  Officially, however, the case was unsolved.

The book is a walk-through of the case.  It seems to follow closely real events as outlined in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caroline_Mary_Luard, the site recommended at the end of the book.  Walters, however, uses fiction techniques to bring the story to life, including imagining some characters. 

The novel includes some social commentary about class divisions and the inequality of the sexes at the turn of the twentieth century.  It also sheds light on crime investigation at that time.

This is one of the Quick Reads series of books intended for reluctant adult readers or those who struggle with reading.  For those readers, I think it’s a good choice.  The tale might encourage further reading/research into the actual case.