Purser, Ann 1933–

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Purser, Ann 1933–

PERSONAL: Born 1933; married Philip Purser (a writer). Education: Attended Open University.

ADDRESSES: Home—East Midlands, England. Office—10 The Green, Blakesley, Towcester, North-hamptonshire NN12 8RD, England. Agent—David Higham Associates, 5-8 Lower John St., Golden Square, London W1F 9HA, England. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer. Formerly worked in a village school and as a journalist. SHE magazine, columnist; former art gallery proprietor.

MEMBER: Crime Writers' Association.

WRITINGS:

NONFICTION

Looking Back at Popular Entertainment, 1901–1939, EP Publishing (Wakefield, England), 1978.

You and Your Handicapped Child, Allen & Unwin (London, England), 1981.

"ROUND RINGFORD" NOVELS

Pastures New, Orion (London, England), 1984.

Orphan Lamb, Orion (London, England), 1995.

Spinster of this Parish, Orion (London, England), 1995.

New Every Morning, Orion (London, England), 1996.

Thy Neighbour's Wife, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Mixed Doubles, Orion (London, England), 1998.

"LOIS MEADE" MYSTERIES

Murder on Monday, Severn (Sutton, England), 2002.

Terror on Tuesday, Severn (Sutton, England), 2003.

Weeping on Wednesday, Severn (Sutton, England), 2003.

Theft on Thursday, Severn (Sutton, England), 2004.

Fear on Friday, Severn (Sutton, England), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: Ann Purser began her career as an author by writing nonfiction books, but soon turned to novels, penning mysteries and books about country life. In her first six novels, Purser featured the residents of Round Ringford, a small English village not unlike the one where the author lives. The novels feature many recurring characters, as well as new arrivals to town. In the first of these novels, Pastures New, the author tells the story of Peggy Palmer, who opens a shop in a small village after her husband, Frank, loses his job. The novel follows the couple as they form a new cadre of friends. Although small-town life seems idyllic, the Palmers soon discover that everyone has problems, from adultery to mental illness. Peggy also faces a new dilemma when a tragedy occurs. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the author "creates an amiable, delightfully gossipy novel."

After writing five more novels in a similar vein to Pastures New, Purser turned to the mystery genre. Her "Lois Meade" mysteries also take place in a tiny village and feature a middle-aged homemaker turned amateur sleuth after her children have gone off to school. In the first book in the series, Murder on Monday, Lois takes a cleaning job with a retired law professor and his wife in a nearby village. When the couple's neighbor is strangled in the back kitchen during a town hall meeting, Lois begins her own investigation and discovers that the murdered woman had a notorious past that may have led to her demise. "Cleverly plotted, with thoroughly believable characters, rising tension, and a smashing climax," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Emily Melton, writing in Booklist, called Purser's initial outing in the mystery genre "fresh, engaging, and authentically British."

In Terror on Tuesday Lois has started a cleaning-business called New Brooms and hires several people to work for her. One of her employees has an abusive husband who is angry over their daughter working in a pub and being seen with Major John Todd-Nelson. When the major is found dead, Lois is on the case and soon discovers that their quaint village's exterior is only a façade for corruption, involving drugs, pornography, and pedophilia. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that the novel is "most notable for the careful way Purser roots every shocking malfeasance in the rhythms and woes of ordinary working-class family life." Once again writing in Booklist, Melton called the novel "competent, tidy, likable, and clever."

Lois hires a new employee for her business, which leads her to another adventure in the next novel in the series, Weeping on Wednesday. Lois's new employee, Enid, has many family problems, including a ne'er-do-well brother who has numerous debts that may have led to the kidnapping of Enid and her father. Booklist contributor Melton called the plot "inventive" and the novel an "entertaining look at village life."

Theft on Thursday finds Lois investigating two deadly fires, one at the local vicarage that kills the vicar and another that kills the vicar's godson, who had been having an affair with two women in the church's choir. There are plenty of suspects to go around, including a group of Satanists that the local constable—recurring character Hunter Cowgill—wants Lois to help him track down. "Clever, engaging, and suspenseful, this is Purser's best Lois Mead adventure yet," wrote Melton in Booklist.

In Fear on Friday, Purser's heroine has opened a new office for her cleaning service only to find that a shop across the street that sells rain wear is really doing a much-better business in the sale of pornography and sex toys. When the town's mayor is found murdered, Inspector Cowgill discovers that the mayor had a spare room in his house in which he conducted illicit liaisons and that was stocked with items from the shop. Cowgill asks for Lois's help by having her listen to the local gossip and do some searching in local homes that she cleans. Writing in Booklist, Melton called the book part of "a fine series that just keeps getting better."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 15, 2002, Emily Melton, review of Murder on Monday, p. 210; May 1, 2003, Emily Melton, review of Terror on Tuesday, p. 1552; May 1, 2004, Emily Melton, review of Weeping on Wednesday, p. 1516; November 15, 2004, Emily Melton, review of Theft on Thursday, p. 565; October 1, 2005, Emily Melton, review of Fear on Friday, p. 40.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2002, review of Murder on Monday, p. 1270; May 1, 2003, review of Terror on Tuesday, p. 647; January 1, 2005, review of Theft on Thursday, p. 24; October 1, 2005, review of Fear on Friday, p. 1055.

Library Journal, October 1, 2002, Rex E. Klett, review of Murder on Monday, p. 131.

Publishers Weekly, November 7, 1994, review of Pastures New, p. 66; October 21, 2002, review of Murder on Monday, p. 59.

ONLINE

Ann Purser Home Page, http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/ annpurser (January 20, 2006).