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Debbie Howells

from FictionZeal.com re: Deep Waters by Patricia Hall

Deep Waters: A British mystery set in London of the swinging 1960s (A Kate O'Donnell Mystery) - Patricia Hall

Ray Robertson, owner of the Delilah Club in Soho in London’s West End, had been missing for nearly a week.  Detective Sergeant Harry Barnard is looking for him.  He headed to the gym, another enterprise owned by Ray.  He still didn’t find Ray.  But, what he did find was the body of Rod Miller lying in a pool of blood in the bathroom near Ray’s office.  Rod had been a trainer at the gym.  Harry had known Ray since they were children.  Even though they went their separate ways and ended up on opposite sides of the law, Harry didn’t think of Ray as a murderer.  In fact, Ray’s own life had recently been in jeopardy by his brother, Georgie.


Photographer Kate O’Donnell recently moved in with Harry.  He discusses bits of the case with her and she shares pictures and information with Harry about the reconstruction project for Canvey Island.  Much of the Canvey Island homes near Essex, England, had been demolished during the East Coast floods of 1953.  Harry saw that Kate had captured an image of Loretta, Ray’s ex-wife, in one of her Canvey Island pictures.  He knew that Loretta was also looking for Ray.  Perhaps she found him … in Canvey Island.  By this time, Harry had been dismissed from the case.  The bosses thought he was too close.  But, he can’t stand by and watch Ray get pulled in for a murder he knew he didn’t commit.


The story is historical suspense set in London in 1964.  While most of the story is vastly fictional, it abounds with very real aspects.  The Canvey Island flood of 1953 devastated the East Coast causing the deaths of fifty-nine people.  Thousands were evacuated from their homes due to high floodwater.  Many of the effects were still being felt from WWII.  References were made against women entering the workforce.  Kate had attended art college with John Lennon.  All of this helped to seal the time and place in the readers’ mind.  Yet, the plot was a bit complicated and there were many characters.  Although the two separate plots eventually intersected, I felt more of the story was about Harry Barnard than our protagonist, Kate O’Donnell.  Rating: 3 out of 5.