Published: 01/12/2013
ISBN: 9781783061662
eISBN: 9781783067954
Format: Paperback/eBook



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Penny Freedman has taught English and Drama in schools, colleges and universities. Her experience as director of English Language courses for overseas students forms the background to her murder myste... read more

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One May Smile
by Penny Freedman

Struggling, as ever, with the demands of work, family and a precarious love life, Gina Gray finds herself in the world of Scandinavian noir. A trip with students to perform Hamlet in Denmark, at the very castle where Shakespeare sets the play, starts out as an adventure: ‘I like young people, I like Hamlet, I have a predilection in favour of Denmark as a rational, civilised not-too-hot country,’ she tells us. What could possibly go wrong?

Almost everything, as it turns out. At the last minute, Gina has to take her three-year-old granddaughter, Freda, with her, David Scott, her ‘boyfriend, partner, lover or significant other’ breaks off contact and the student group turns out to be seething with neurosis, envy, conflict and soured relationships. Even before the first death, Gina is wishing she could go home... but when one of the students dies in a car crash and the local police suspect foul play, she is drawn into the investigation.

As other attacks follow and Gina stumbles towards the truth, hidden deep in Hamlet itself, police suspicion lights on her and a murderer’s net closes in around her. I could come over, David Scott texts. No need, she replies. Can she really cope alone?

One May Smile is another of Penny Freedman’s popular series of novels, providing a classic ‘whodunit’ story with a modern twist. The crimes take place in a ‘cosy’ Middle England context, but take us to dark emotional places with a lot of humour, black and otherwise. Fans of classic crime will find this a gripping read.

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Penny Freedman found the idea for 'This is a Dreadful Sentence' when she was teaching English at a college in Kent and noticed a kitchen knife lying on one of the bookshelves in the library. This picture lodged in her mind and came out years later as a new twist on the classic 'body in the library' plot: a foreign student is found stabbed and crushed to death in a college library.

Penny says, 'Once I had my plot, I knew I wanted to create a female sleuth who wasn't a superwoman but a real woman whose life readers would recognise and sympathise with.' And so she created Gina Gray, a forty-something divorcee with two daughters, one a stroppy teenager and the other a single mother frequently looking to Gina to step in and mind the baby. 'I had a picture in my mind,' Penny says, 'of a woman who does her investigating while pushing a baby in a buggy. And however exciting or scary her investigation gets, she still has to fit in trips to the supermarket. I find that readers like Gina because she's real and because she's brave and funny and speaks her mind.'

Reading, Writing and Reisling Blog, 17 January

A Garden Carried in the Pocket blog, 12 January

Cayacosta72 Book Reviews, 7 January

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