Friday’s Forgotten Book: A Perfect Match by Jill McGown

Jill McGown was born 9 August 1947 in Campbeltown, Scotland, and died 6 April 2007 in Kettering, about 70 miles north of London.  She wrote 18 novels, 13 of which featured the adventures of Detective Inspector David Lloyd and Detective Sergeant Judy Hill of the Stansfield police force. A Perfect Match (St. Martin’s Press, 1983) introduced the pair and their on-and-off romantic relationship.

An ongoing subplot in the series is Lloyd’s name. No one refers to him as anything but Lloyd, otherwise they risk physical harm, he says. In this introductory book we learn his legal given name is David and that he changed the name on his birth certificate to David at his earliest opportunity, keeping the first initial D. Hill of course is determined to learn what horrific appellation his parents dreamed up. The television production of a later story in the series, A Shred of Evidence, gave Lloyd’s first name as Danny.

A Perfect Match is a first-rate example of a brilliantly plotted British police procedural. Recent widow Julia Mitchell is found strangled in a boat house. Chris Wade, the man who had offered her a ride home less than an hour before she died, is incoherent and cannot offer his friends a clear explanation of what happened. When he hears the police at the front door, he panics and disappears for several days while the homicide investigation proceeds apace. By the time he gives himself up, the evidence against him is overwhelming.

In the meantime, Julia Mitchell’s brother-in-law realizes that he is now in line to inherit the fortune that his recently deceased brother left, and he begins to make plans to spend it. His long-suffering wife, who is an interesting secondary character, stands by and waits for him to pack up and leave.

The investigation, including forensics and interviews, is methodically performed, and in a nice piece of misdirection it indeed appears that there is no way that Wade can be anything but guilty. It’s that careful research and attention to detail, however, that turns up a discrepancy that leads to another inconsistency that reveals another contradiction, and in no time at all, the case against Wade unravels. A really fine story with some intriguing characters.

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