Chicken Shack

Reviewed by Andy Smart

This is the fourth of Alma Fritchely's great series of novels featuring Letty Campbell, a woman who proves that not only is having a career as a chicken farmer no bar to sleuthing prowess, but that rural west Yorkshire is far more cosmopolitanly crime-ridden that at first it might appear.

Letty, still recovering from the end of her relationship with Anne, sells the land she inherited from old George (in Chicken Out) to a Texan who turns it into a health spa, there being no local farmers interested in buying it for agriculture and Letty having no desire to own quite that much land. However is all as it seems in the world of 'CFC Inspirational Health and Beauty', especially when it's local faces are Ms Christine Crozier and Amy, the preppy homophobe. As if this is not quite enough for Letty to contend with, a major gas leak means she has to play host to Mrs Buckham, elderly owner of Calderton's local shop, and her mother announces her engagement to an extremely wealthy retired Scottish colonel.

Those who were perhaps hoping (like me to be honest) for a grand romantic re-union with Anne will be disappointed; it looks like it's over once and for all between them. However there is new romantic interest on the horizon. Fans of the first three novels will be delighted to hear that all their favourite people are in this latest book, the impossibly glamorous Julia, down-to-earth single mother and garage mechanic AnnaMaria, nosy local journalist Janice, and of course the chickens.

This is every bit as good as the previous 'chicken' novels. Fritchley is a superb writer with a great ear for dialogue and who quite obviously adores creating new and interesting people for her novels. In some hard to define way Chicken Shack is somehow darker than its predecessors and Letty herself is I think more bitter, but it still has the same sure humour of the first three and the one-liners are still as snappy. Read it and enjoy it.

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