Sydney’s Observatory on a balmy summer evening is the perfect venue for a cocktail party and, it would seem, a murder, for Peter Van Goren’s body is discovered bludgeoned to death in the grounds. The first question Detective Chief Inspector Fitzjohn must answer is why Van Goren was present given his name does not appear on the guest list. The second is what was the subject of Van Goren’s vehement argument with Richard Carmichael, one of the function’s hosts.
Meanwhile, Richard’s son, Ben Carmichael, a photojournalist, returns to Sydney from an overseas assignment to find his fiancée, Emma Phillips, has gone missing. Although unavoidably dragged into the police investigation, Ben goes in search of her. In so doing, he is drawn to Lane’s End, the abandoned family estate where the very atmosphere awakens disturbing memories.
Through a maze of twisted stories, Fitzjohn follows a winding path to solve his case, but he is not prepared for the spiralling perplexity his quest creates.
Jill Paterson is best known for her popular Fitzjohn Mystery Series. Set in the city of Sydney, Australia, her richly drawn characters include Alistair Fitzjohn. Now a police consultant since his retirement from the force, his methods of investigation remain the same, methodical and painstaking.
While continuing the Fitzjohn series, Jill is also working on a new series, the Phoebe Chadwick Mysteries. Set along the east coast of Australia in a small township, Phoebe Chadwick heads the cast of characters as the female sleuth.
When not writing, Jill explores settings for her books and enjoys painting, photography and tai chi.
Chief Inspector Alistair Fitzjohn had just arrived home after taking out a prestigious title with his prize orchid; he was returning it to his glasshouse when he was interrupted by his Sergeant, Martin Betts. They had just been called to Sydney’s Observatory where it appeared that a cocktail party had gone very wrong for one of the guests. Peter Van Goren had been badly beaten and his body was lying in the gardens of the Observatory.
But when Fitzjohn discovered that Van Goren wasn’t on the guest list, his suspicions were aroused. And they were further aroused when he found that Richard Carmichael, one of two hosts for the evening, had become ill and gone home after an argument with Van Goren. There was obviously a connection between the two men but as he was told no one actually knew the man, Fitzjohn was puzzled as to what that connection could be.
When Ben Carmichael, a photojournalist and son to Richard arrived home from his overseas assignment, he was looking forward to seeing Emma Phillips, his fiancée. It had been awhile since they had seen each other, though they had communicated on a fairly regular basis. Ben was looking forward to some down time with Emma. But arriving at their home, Ben discovered Emma was nowhere to be found. And when he realized she hadn’t been seen in some days he became extremely concerned. Where could she be?
As Fitzjohn deepened the investigation, he discovered an abandoned home which had been in the Carmichael family for decades. With witnesses from the Observatory murder not being entirely truthful with Fitzjohn, the secrets that had been long buried began to surface. Was Lane’s End part of this case? And what would Ben discover at his family estate; the home he hadn’t seen since he was a young boy?
I thoroughly enjoyed this latest instalment in the Fitzjohn series by Aussie author Jill Paterson. A light, entertaining crime mystery with a great protagonist! Alistair Fitzjohn is an endearing character with many foibles and a quirky nature. I have no hesitation in recommending Lane’s End highly.
Loved this traditional murder mystery! Beautifully written, the characters are a delight, each person's life unfolding without fanfare. Fitzjohn's bossy sister and her intimidated niece to Betts, his sergeant, who has a "thing" for Sophie, Grieg, Fitzjohn's nemesis and his belligerent neighbour all play their parts with conviction.
What I particularly liked about this book was the setting - Sydney, where I lived for many years - the solid policing and quiet style of the lead character and the lack of erotica - a welcome change!
Fourth in the Fitzjohn Mystery detective series set in Sydney, Australia, in 2013 and revolving around Detective Chief Inspector Alistair Fitzjohn.
My Take The story is very low-key in a number of areas, low enough to be vague, which I found irritating — and partially accounts for the "3". What really pushed me to that "3" was how lame the reason was for not revealing what truly happened back in 1983. Good grief. Why not at least tell Richard??? It was a letdown when the truth all came out. Oh, it was all quite plausible...except for the why. As for that "foreign" accent that Van Goren had...gimme a break. You'll understand once you read the story. Jesus.
There's plenty of action in Lane's End: issues in the police station; the long, involved mysteries plaguing the Carmichaels (and Hunts); Emma's shenanigans; the unlikely heir to Van Goren's estate; Ben's personal issues with his father and Emma; those early relationships between Richard, Sebastian, and Rachael; Amanda's reticence; and, of course, Fitzjohn's turmoils with his neighbor and sister as well as his relationship with his niece. It certainly kept things hopping.
They're great characters, both the core ones and this story's. I'll definitely have to go back to the first in this series, The Celtic Dagger, in hopes of meeting Fitzjohn's wife. I think I'd like her.
While Paterson uses a third person global subjective point-of-view, the primary perspective is Fitzjohn's with a pace that's quick enough to keep me interested — especially with those characters, lol — although the prose felt very 1950s.
Just keep in mind that the truth will always out.
The Story Murder. At the Sydney Observatory. Witnesses who know more than they're telling. It's all grist for Fitzjohn to mull over, causing him to dig deep, back to 1983 with too many people involved in a maze of twisted stories.
The Characters Detective Chief Inspector Alistair Fitzjohn has a lovely new greenhouse in his backyard where he grows his prized orchids. Edith is his late wife who died 18 months ago. Meg is Alistair's interfering, controlling sister who lives in Melbourne. Sophie is her determined daughter, studying forensic medicine in Sydney. She's about to have new roommates of whom her mother does not approve.
Day Street, New South Wales Police Force Detective Sergeant Martin Betts is Fitzjohn's partner. Chief Superintendent Evelyn Grieg is a major jerk and Fitzjohn's supervisor. DCI Reginald Fellowes (he retired as Chief Superintendent) had originally been in charge of the investigation into Rachael Carmichael's death. Senior Constable Williams, who had been moved to Kings Cross Local Area Command is back at Day Street.
Charles Conroy is the pathologist who works at the Parramatta morgue. DCI David Roberts is in charge of the attack at Lane's End.
Peter Van Goren was a wealthy man and an uninvited guest. Ida Clegg is Van Goren's housekeeper. Marjorie "Marge" Reynolds is the cook, and Leonard "Len" Preston is the grounds man and chauffeur. Raymond West is Van Goren's solicitor.
Richard Carmichael and Emerson Hunt are real estate partners. Laura Carmichael is Richard's second wife; his first, Rachael, a talented artist, died under suspicious circumstances. The estranged Benjamin and Joanna were Richard's children before he married Laura. Lane's End is the Carmichael family's country property along Whale Beach. Amanda Marsh was the housekeeper back in the day. Now she's a caterer. Henry Beaumont is the gardener who disappeared.
Benjamin is a renowned photojournalist (with a degree in astrophysics) who is living with his fiancée, Emma Phillips, a freelance journalist. Audrey McIntyre is Emma's research assistant. Ron Evans is Ben and Emma's next-door neighbor.
Sebastian Newberry is Richard's half-brother and an interior designer with a degree in architecture who runs Ultra Design. Jacinta is Newberry's assistant. Sebastian's father had been Edmund Newberry who died in a car accident. His mother then married Desmond Carmichael, his father's best friend.
Theodora Hunt is Emerson's wife, and she runs Fabrique en France. Tulip is her nervous dog.
Murray, Bennett, Walker are Richard's solicitors. Rhonda Butler is Fitzjohn's nasty neighbor who has involved the Leichardt Municipal Council.
The Cover and Title The cover has a bold red sky with a tower emerging from a rooftop in a much darker red. I'm guessing the house is at Lane's End. The title is a combination of script and sans serif in white and begins on the right side of the tower. At the start of the title is an eagle-headed cane on the slant. The author's name is near the bottom, also in white, as is the series information immediately below it.
The title is where the mystery began at Lane's End so many years ago.
Set in Sydney, Australia, "Lane's End" is a well written, fast paced mystery. There is a element of Australian local color that is unique to many English related books, and that is the question of social class which often can impede an investigation. The protagonist is Detective Chief Inspector Alistair Fitzjohn. Through a maze of twisted stories, Fitzjohn follows a winding path to solve his case, but he is not prepared for the spiraling perplexity that his investigation creates. This is an enjoyable series, and if you like a good mystery, then I do recommend this series to you.
Arriving home after taking a prestigious award with his prize orchid, Chief Inspector Fitzjohn is interrupted by his Sergeant, Martin Betts. A cocktail party held at Sydney’s Observatory had gone very wrong for one of the guests. Peter Van Goren had been found badly beaten on the Observatory's grounds. Later, a seemingly solved case involving this family from 1983 — suicide vs. accidental death — impinges on the present case.
Paterson's "Lane's End" is a well crafted mystery with a fast paced plot. Paterson's characterization has created well rounded, engaging characters. This is especially true of Chief Inspector Fitzjohn and his side-kick Sergeant Betts. Also we have his neighbor who wants to make his life miserable, a sister who is out of control and wants to run everyone's life, and a his poor niece Sophie, a college student, who is moving into a new apartment with two guys. (Mom now wants to drag her back home!) The web of intrigue, the twists in the plot, and the dark family upper class secrets, are all cleverly woven to produce a mystery that will leave you guessing. I will definitely be reading more of Jill Paterson's Fitzjohn Mysteries, and I do recommend them - you will not be disappointed.
It’s always good to read a well-turned story set in one’s home town. While you me of the joys of reading is gaining familiarity with many places you never or rarely visit, there is nothing like the jolt of reading a good story set in a place whose geography,streets, road networks and public transport you recognise instantly.
It helps, of course, that Paterson creates interesting, rounded, credible characters and tells a convincing, engaging story. I appreciate the lack of melodrama. Secrets lie hidden for decades, their damage manifesting in recognisable, subtle ways that pass for normal behaviour as families adjust to get by.
Easy-read Australian cozy with a straightforward procedural plot that proceeds at a comfortable pace. Unlike most cozies, there are three—okay, 2 and 1/2—cases. The present day cases are: 1) the mystery of the missing journalist/writer, and 2) the murder of an uninvited guest at a cocktail party being held at the Sydney Observatory. Plus, a seemingly solved case from 1983—suicide vs. accidental death—which impinges on the present case. There is also a fun side-story involving Detective Fitzjohn’s neighbor.
Another nice little classic Christie-style mystery! Echos of Father Brown and Midsommer Murders. Just a touch formulaic, and I think they would be better if I didn't read them back to back - but I'm going to anyway! Nice diversions. Heartily recommended - as long you can juggle 10-12 characters. Luckily, they have different enough names and rolls that it's not hard to keep up.
Quick read. Enjoyable characters. Like a lot of e-books, the plot is propelled forward more from talking and confessions than police actually finding evidence. Pleasant read but I'm not sure I'll be reading any more in this series - this felt more like a first novel than number 4 in a series.
I was hoping for more of a sense of place. It seemed no different than any of the English mysteries I've read. The most interesting part of the book was the information about the Sydney Observatory at the end.
I've been enjoying this series so far. The author has a lot of ins and outs along with red herrings that can keep you guessing. Putting the "little grey cells" to work. Looking forward to reading more of them.
For those interested, nice clean reads which is a big plus.
Fitzjohn is a Chief Inspector in the Sydney. He is good at what he does at work, and he has just won an award for a prize orchid which shows he is also good at his hobby.
At work, he is assisted by Detective Betts and at times Detective Williams. And all of them make a good team. At home, there is a neighbor who wants to make his life miserable, a sister who is out of control and wants to run everyone's life and a niece who is moving into a new apartment with two guys.
There is a murder which makes no sense until there are many little things which come together to form a pattern. But, the pattern does not lead to any answers.
A man is murdered at a cocktail party. No one knows who he is and no one has any reason to have killed him.
Very quickly, one of the suspects is hospitalized and subsequently dies of a heart attack. And more little things start adding up. But all the adding up seems to be going no where.
This is a good mystery. Fitzjohn and his staff are able to put small pieces together and get more detailed pictures of the suspects. And the suspects become more suspicious as we learn more about them.
The plot is well developed and the reader is never kept out of the picture. As information is developed, we are right along with the detectives. Even though this is a mystery about murder, there is humor which makes the story seem to be very human. Everything moves along very quickly.
The character development is good. I like Fitzjohn very much and even though we are not given a great deal of information about Betts and Williams, it is evident they are devoted to the job.
I look forward to finding other books by Ms Paterson. She is a talented author who creates a good mystery for her readers.
Much of my pleasure in this mystery came from the modern day Sydney, Australia setting. I don't think I've read a book set there before, and I enjoyed looking up the places in the story on Google Maps. This is a police procedural with Chief Inspector Alistair Fitzjohn. This is the fourth in the series but the first I've read. I didn't feel lost not having read the first three books in the series. The mysteries aren't very hard to figure out mostly due to lack of suspects, but the characterizations are quite good, and I liked the story even though I figured it out without even trying. Usually that annoys me, but the exotic (for me) setting, appealing characters, and crisp writing soothed any irritation. I will read more in the series, although I'm not feeling in a rush to seek one out.