A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

Murder While You Work by Susan Scarlett (Noel Streatfeild)

on October 25, 2022

I was thrilled to hear that Furrowed Middlebrow Press was bringing back a bunch of Streatfeild adult novels, but honestly, this one could have been left to moulder in obscurity without much loss. If Streatfeild had stuck with the main characters — Judy, who’s working in a munitions factory and Nicholas, who’s doing some top secret, highly dangerous weapons work –and expanded on their relationship, it would have been a nice wartime romance with some interesting sources of tension. (I enjoyed how frank the book is for an old romance — although Nick and Judy don’t get up to anything beyond a kiss, the notion that they could and people certainly do is right out there. Very different from an old Harlequin!)

Instead, the romance struggles under the weight of a deeply depressing mystery/suspense plot, with an obvious, implausibly theatrical villain, the murder of some likable characters, and a hefty side order of ableism. (The original Furrowed Middlebrow review even mentions a use of the R word, which they have eliminated from the new addition. But there’s too much embedded into the story to be cut out.) It’s really not what I wanted to be reading right now… or probably any time, really.

It does seem from the reviews that this is atypical of the Scarlett novels, so I’ll certainly try another.


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