Past Tense by Catherine Aird

I read Catherine Aird mysteries a long time ago, so I was struck by a little nostalgia when I saw that she was releasing a new mystery  featuring Chief Inspector Sloan and Detective Constable Crosby.  I was long overdue for a good classic english police procedural not to mention a vocabulary test.  I love words and I will tell you that there were several new vocabulary words that I was not familiar with and had to look up.   Do you know that the adjective “pukka” means-genuine or of respectable society?  In any case, the book starts with one of the main characters, Jan Wakefield,  making funeral arrangements for her husband Will’s great Aunt Josephine, someone the Wakefields had no idea had been living in a nursing home near them for quite some time.  At the funeral, Jane is surprised by the appearance of Joe Short, Josephine Short’s grandson.  Joe proceeds to inform Jane, that his grandmother had been an  unmarried mother and that she had been kicked out and estranged  by her family, who also attempted  to cut her out of her share of the Kemberland Trust, when her parents died.  Now that Josephine has died,  it appears that only Joe Short and William Wakefied, Jane’s husband, are Josephine’s  surviving  relatives, with Joe, being the only beneficiary named in the will.

Initially,  there is only one small crime for  DCI Sloan and his sidekick DC Crosby to solve.  However,  it isn’t long before a much bigger crime is committed.  The first crime, an apparent ransacking of Josephine Short’s room at the nursing home,  and the second, the death of a beautiful auburn-haired woman seen by witnesses at Josephine Short’s funeral.  DCI Sloan is sure that there is a connection between the woman’s death and the break-in at the nursing home he just can’t seem to find it.  Plenty of suspects along with good writing and wonderful characters make for a cracking good read!  I figured this one out-can you?


  • judith goodrich

    When does the story take place? The cover makes the story seem like it might take place in the 40’s.

  • Catherine Aird’s “PastTense” are set in a fictional English county, Callenshire. Interestingly enough, Aird has been writing Sloan/Crosby mysteries since 1966, when “A Religious Body” was published and Sloan/Crosby never seem to age. However, to finally answer your question, while the cover looks dated this book takes place in modern times so to speak. Hope that answers your question!