First Monday Crime is back after a summer break and we have four brilliant authors appearing on the panel. First Monday Crime will be online and it can be viewed live on their Facebook page at 19:30 p.m. on Monday, 4th October 2021. I’ll have all the details about how you can access the link and who will be appearing at the end of this post. But first I have a review of the stunning debut novel by Inga Vesper, The Long, Long Afternoon for you. Inga is one of the authors who will be appearing on the panel.
Yesterday, I kissed my husband for the last time . . .
It’s the summer of 1959, and the well-trimmed lawns of Sunnylakes, California, wilt under the sun. At some point during the long, long afternoon, Joyce Haney, wife, mother, vanishes from her home, leaving behind two terrified children and a bloodstain on the kitchen floor.
While the Haney’s neighbours get busy organising search parties, it is Ruby Wright, the family’s ‘help’, who may hold the key to this unsettling mystery. Ruby knows more about the secrets behind Sunnylakes’ starched curtains than anyone, and it isn’t long before the detective in charge of the case wants her help. But what might it cost her to get involved? In these long hot summer afternoons, simmering with lies, mistrust and prejudice, it could only take one spark for this whole ‘perfect’ world to set alight . . .
A beguiling, deeply atmospheric debut novel from the cracked heart of the American Dream, The Long, Long Afternoon is at once a page-turning mystery and an intoxicating vision of the ways in which women everywhere are diminished, silenced and ultimately under-estimated.
The Long, Long Afternoon by Inga Vesper is a beautifully written novel set in California in the 1950s. The writing is highly engaging and the mystery of Joyce Haney’s disappearance drew me into the story. It is very well written and Inga Vesper highlights important social issues of the day.
When Joyce Haney goes missing, the first suspect the police consider is the family’s help, Ruby Wright. There are some police officers who would much rather pin the crime on her and have it be forgotten about, but Detective Blanke, who is new to the area, is appalled by this. He is determined to solve the mystery of Joyce Haney’s disappearance and he is determined to make sure the right person put behind bars.
As we get to know more about Joyce Haney we get to see that there are lot of mysteries in her life. She seems to be very different to the women in the neighbourhood. I wanted to get to the bottom of who she was and what had been happening in her life in the run up to her disappearance. There was also a lot of mystery surrounding her family which I wanted to find out more about.
I really felt frustrated for Ruby. You can see that she is doing everything to try and help but she seems to hit a brick wall every time she tries to do this. It highlights the racism that Ruby experiences. This does create tension in the book as well, particularly as people from Ruby’s part of town don’t like the police. But Ruby is determined to help the police solve the mystery of Joyce’s disappearance.
There are a number of suspects Detective Blanke investigates but I was never able to guess if any of them had anything to do with Joyce’s disappearance. I wasn’t able to make up my mind either if whether or not she would be found alive or dead. The residents of the town made me feel as though they were all hiding something.
Inga Vesper brings the setting to life really well and I felt as though I was there. The setting really helped in bringing this book to life. I loved the way how Inga described California and Sunnylakes, where the crime takes place.
The Long, Long Afternoon is a brilliant debut. I really enjoyed reading it and I thought it felt very fresh. If you’re looking for an engaging crime thriller, I highly recommend it.
Publisher: Manilla Press
Publication date: 2nd February 2021
Print length: 333 pages
The Long, Long Afternoon is available to buy:
First Monday Crime is being broadcast live on Facebook at 19.30 p.m. on Monday 4th October 2021. Appearing on the panel we have, Inga Vesper author of The Long, Long Afternoon, Lesley Kara author of The Dare, Mara Timon author of Resistance, Tariq Ashkanari author of Welcome to Cooper. The panel will be moderated by Jonathan Whitelaw. You can access the event by clicking on the link below: