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I'll Sing You Two-O

I'll Sing You Two-O - Anthea Fraser Anthea Mary Fraser (born 1930) was inspired by her novelist-mother to be a writer, but her own first published novel had to wait until 1970. The 1974 paranormal novel Laura Possessed was her first break-through success, followed by six other books in a similar vein and some romantic suspense titles before she turned to crime fiction.

She created two series, the first with Detective Chief Inspector David Webb of the Shillingham police, totaling 16 novels in all from 1984 to 1999. The second is a series Fraser debuted in 2003 featuring biographer/freelance journalist Rona Parish, with the last of six books published in 2008. Fraser also served the crime fiction community as secretary of the Crime Writers' Association from 1986 to 1996.

The first twelve in the DCI Webb series all take their titles from the lyrics to the English folk song "Green Grow the Rushes-O," including "I'll Sing you Two-O" from 1991, the ninth entry in the Webb roster. The case is set in motion when clothing store owner and part-time town magistrate Monica Tovey finds a van abandoned outside her home. But when the van's gruesome contents—the bodies of the football-mad, window washing, petty-thief White twins—are discovered, unsettling events disturb the serenity of the English town of Shillingham, and Monica suddenly finds her own life in danger.

DCI Webb begins to suspect that recent town burglaries, near-riots among soccer fans, low-flying airplanes and mysterious phone calls may not be unrelated to the case. Webb is also an accomplished artist, and he frequently calls upon his skills to record his impressions and hone in on the murderer, as he does here.

Fraser has taken some heat in the past for creating unconvincing and/or unlikely killers but also collected frequent praise for her rendering of small-town settings, with Publishers Weekly noting that "Fraser's rendering of an English community is again impeccable, enabling a reader not only to take pleasure in the mystery itself...but also to feel part of the life of a small, worried town," and Kirkus adding that it's "a competent, civilized police procedural, enhanced by sensitive probing of snarled relationships and a nicely drawn small-town ambiance."

PW also once characterized Fraser's writing as "succinct," with "her plots developed quickly, her prose straight to the point, with neither narrative nor character suffering from this brevity." And the book does fly along at a fairly clipped pace, in a very dialogue-heavy manner, although the investigation and procedural elements often take a back seat to character interactions.

It's interesting to read words the author gave to one character that "We lead container lives nowadays, bound up in our own concerns. It doesn't make for neighborliness." Those words feel even truer today than in 1991, when thanks to technology, we likely know more about some distant celebrity than we do the people on our own street, and people are glued to cellphones even when out "socializing" with others.