Budleigh Salterton is a quiet and sophisticated town on the edge of the Jurassic Coastline, in East Devon. I visited once and remember the large-pebbled beach and tearooms. Fond memories. So that's the reason I plumped for this novel by a writer I have not read before.
In Limelight, a spur of the moment visit to this little town sees the budding friendship between two French women. The first quarter of the story show the development of this relationship along with their closest friends and neighbours (not forgetting their snake-hipped sons). It's quite slow here but the tranquillity of this lovely place sets the scene for the tragedy that unfolds. The new friend disappears, the assumption being that she is lost in the sea, as she is a eager daily swimmer. A missing person means the police become involved and intense questioning follows. The missing woman is extremely popular and the locals are not keen about telling the police anything that may be perceived as negative. The interviews at the police station at the end of the book are captivating.
A gentle, refined and well-written mystery, this book looks at the choices we have for the end of life, whether that is to spend it 'at the end of the line' in Budleigh Salterton, or in the sea. It also looks at friendship and whether it's defined by time, intimacy, disclosure or keeping promises.
If you get the chance to visit Budleigh Salterton, I recommend a visit. They also hold a rather splendid literary festival, too. Limelight is a great read, which I recommend as well, and is part of a series.
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