ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Constable, 3 the Lanchesters, 162 Fulham Palace Rd., London W6 9ER, England.
CAREER: Writer and novelist.
The Jericho Rose (historical novel), Warner (London, England), 1993.
The Jericho Trumpet (historical novel), Warner (London, England), 1996.
No Corners for the Devil (mystery novel), Constable (London, England), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: English writer and novelist Olive Etchells is the author of a trio of novels. The first two, The Jericho Rose and The Jericho Trumpet, are historical novels set in England in the period during and following the American Civil War. In The Jericho Rose, the war has finally renewed the cotton industry in a Lancashire mill town. As the cotton mills slowly return to action, work remains difficult to find, and Matthew Raike finds that he must travel to Saltley to look for a job, despite looming hardships. By the opening of The Jericho Trumpet, Jericho Mills is once again thriving, cotton is readily available, and work is plentiful. The Scofields, owners of the mill, are known to be generous and easy to work with. However, events occur that place a daunting threat in the Scofields' path, endangering the mill and the livelihood of everyone in the area.
No Corners for the Devil finds Manchester suburbanites Rob and Sally Baxter, their daughter, and two sons moving to Cornwall's scenic and idyllic Roseland Peninsula to seek a calmer, safer life than they had in the city. While Rob takes on a part-time teaching assignment, they find temporary peace in a charming round house by the seaside, where there are "no corners for the devil" to dwell in and start mischief. The tranquility starts to unravel when younger son Ben discovers the body of a teenage girl on the beach. The murdered girl, Samantha Trudgeon, had last been seen in the company of the Baxter's older son, Luke, arguing after a party the night before. Deputy Chief Inspector Channon investigates; his brusque and repugnant assistant, Sergeant Bowles, considers Luke the prime suspect. Making things worse is Rob's peculiar reaction to the murder and his unwillingness to offer his family support during the crisis, as well as daughter Tessa's difficult relationship with her mother. Just as Channon begins to doubt the Baxters, another murder abruptly focuses attention away from them. The intuitive and thoughtful Channon must carefully synthesize what he knows and what is not immediately obvious in order to focus on an unlikely killer with a surprising motive.
Etchells "knows how to introduce characters, get straight into the plot and tempt the reader to go on turning the pages," commented reviewer Catherine Hunt on Shots Online. Reviewer J.A. Kaszuba Locke, writing on the Bookloons Web site, called No Corners for the Devil "a beautifully written mystery." Etchells "couples the harrowing ordeal of a likable family with an artful mystery," remarked a Kirkus Reviews critic.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2005, review of No Corners for the Devil, p. 387.
Library Journal, June 1, 2005, Rex E. Klett, review of No Corners for the Devil, p. 104.
Publishers Weekly, May 9, 2005, review of No Corners for the Devil, p. 49.
BookLoons Web site, http://www.bookloons.com/ (October 6, 2005), J.A. Koszuba Locke, review of No Corners for the Devil.
Shots: The Crime and Mystery Magazine, http://www.shotsmag.co.uk/ (October 6, 2005), Catherine Hunt, review of No Corners for the Devil.