Birth and death in too close proximity

In Natasha Cooper’s series of books her main character Willow King is a romance novelist who used to be a Civil Servant. Fruiting Bodies is the sixth book of the series and in this story Willow is married to a Police Superintendent and expecting her first child, as an older mother. I’ve read all the previous books in the series and I think that it helped me to understand some of the passing references and interactions between characters but this plot does stand alone.

Willow is in labour and delivers her baby near to the beginning of this book. She then finds herself in hospital for a few days. She discovers that the consultant who was supposed to be with her at the birth was absent because he had been drowned in the hospital’s birthing pool. Willow is bored and also worried that she is losing her identity in favour of just being a mother so she decides to investigate the murder herself. There are many suspects both within the hospital and in the consultant’s complicated home life. Meanwhile Willow and her husband are adjusting to being parents and the change that that brings to their relationship.

These are cosy crime novels with little gore and plenty of red herrings. They are quite easy to read and Willow is an interesting character who changes a lot as the books progress. I particularly liked in this story how she loses her confidence with the advent of the baby and how she hates relying on others. She is a rich romantic novelist and she does have a housekeeper who appears to deal with all her needs – I am not quite sure how realistic this is but maybe it’s a bit of wish fulfilment on behalf of the author !

The problem, and it’s a big problem, is that Willow has no right to investigate this murder and to do it she tells lies and generally deceives a lot of people and puts herself in danger. Even the author acknowledges that there is no reason why Willow should be involved and characters continually question her. Her response is not convincing. All the way through I kept thinking “Why is she doing this ?”. The plot’s good enough and the solution to the mystery of what happened is well done but not being able to convince myself that Willow had any right to be investigating meant that I didn’t enjoy this story as much as I had hoped.

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