Following in the tradition of Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Agatha Raisin and Libby Sarjeant, the Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries is a series of cosy crime whodunits, starring amateur sleuth Joe Murray and his two companions Sheila Riley and Brenda Jump.
Using a mix of real and fictitious locations, the travels of the Sanford 3rd Age Club invariably lead them to a crime, usually murder, which compels Joe, Sheila and Brenda to give up some of their time to solving it. Each “case” tests Joe’s powers of observation and deduction, ably supported by Sheila, a former school secretary and widow of a police inspector, and her efforts to educate her friends, and Brenda, a widowed bank clerk, throwing in her candid, often naughty observations.
Although the crimes committed are violent and sometimes have a sexual motive or background, there is no graphic sex or violence in the Sanford 3rd Age Club titles, and there is no strong language. Joe, divorced and living alone, keeps his private life that way, Sheila tends to be prim about such matters and Brenda’s more open, “merry widow” lifestyle provides a source of innuendo and humour without going into detail.
Joe employs Sheila and Brenda at the Lazy Luncheonette, a workman’s café in the fictitious West Yorkshire town of Sanford but most of the action takes place away from Sanford as the Sanford 3rd Age Club travels the UK on outings lasting anything from two days to a full week.
Joe’s reputation as an amateur detective precedes him. No matter where the Sanford 3rd Age Club travels, Joe is known to the local police. In the opening title, most of the action takes place in the Filey/Scarborough area of Yorkshire. Future titles will see the club travel to Chester, Lincoln, Torquay, and as far afield as Amsterdam and Tenerife.
The crimes are constructed quite tightly, but as in real life, the perpetrators leave traces of their work. Inevitably, there is some reference to police procedures and investigation, but it is skimmed in order to allow Joe and his partners to solve the crime.
There is a good deal of humour in the tales. Joe is grumpy, outspoken often to the point of rudeness, and has the outward appearance of being tight-fisted to extremes, but there are also hints at his veiled generosity. He is frequently the butt of Sheila and Brenda’s humour.
With a large cast of regular, supporting characters like George Robson, Captain Les Tanner and his girlfriend Sylvia Goodson and the Staines couple, the core of each tale revolves around the three detectives, the suspects and the local police.
Despite the umbrella title, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries are written for anyone of any age who enjoys an atmospheric whodunit filled with intrigue.
The Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries are published by Crooked Cat Books.
The I-Spy Murders will be published by Crooked Cat Books on June 28th.