A PERFECT MATCH (1983) by Jill McGown

McGowan_Perfect-Match_panThis marked the debut of Scottish writer Jill McGown (1947-2007) and her two detectives, DCI Lloyd (no first name ever provided and it turns out to be something of a bone of contention) and Detective Sergeant Judy Hill, his partner at work and, eventually, at home too. The setting is the usually quiet industrial town of Stanfield, shaked by the discovery of the strangled, naked body of a recently widowed woman in the boathouse she inherited (she owned the lake in front of it too). But where are her clothes?

I submit this review for Bev’s 2015 Silver Age Vintage Mystery Challenge; and Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme over at her fab Pattinase blog.

“Judy Hill slept, dreaming that everyone she ever knew was playing tennis in the rain”

The plot is comparatively simple, though the treatment is a bit involved. The woman was the widow of the richest man in town, who was several decades older than her and who was only trapped into marriage by a pretend pregnancy. Now that she is dead (she is mourned by nobody, they all knew she only married for money and just wants to collect the cash and leave town) her money goes to Donald and Helen Mitchell, both of whom are having affairs with someone else, which is particularly relevant in her case as she is now in love with Chris, who was seen with the victim minutes before being reported dead and who has now gone on the run. But did he do it? And if not, why is he in hiding? And was Donald having an affair with the victim, as his wife thinks, or somebody else? It turns out there is a fair amount of marital infidelity in town, even among the detectives investigating the case …

“They had made each other laugh, she land Lloyd, and the knowledge that they could just as easily make each other cry made the laughter it all the sweeter.”

Lloyd and Hill used to work in London but despite a mutual attraction, both were married and nothing happened. They have now, independently, both ended up working together again, only he is now divorced and her husband is hardly ever around except to have rows. They thus end up together. starting up a tension and dynamic that will mark the series. The plot is quite clever, in a very Christie-like way (I’ll say no more), and there are also some unusual touches (each chapter ends with the point of view of the local wildlife on proceedings), though there are also weaknesses in even such a brief novel (under 200 pages), most notably Chris’ disappearance, which is an obvious red herring but sticks out as such as it simply is not well-enough motivated by the plot. None the less, a confident, well-written debut and I look forward to reviewing more of these next year.


Incidentally, a small bit of trivia for you. Lloyd and Hill was an unsuccessful attempt in 2001 to adapt the books into a TV series starring Philip Glenister and Michelle Collins. It never got past a one-off pilot (a scuzzy-looking version is available illegally online) – in the TV adaptation Lloyd’s first name is given as Danny, but in the books (in the tradition of Morse and Columbo), we only know that D is his initial – and that he will punch out anybody who uses his actual first name.

The Lloyd and Hill Mysteries:

  1. A Perfect Match (1983)
  2. Redemption (US title: Murder at the Old Vicarage, 1988)
  3. Death of a Dancer: (US title: Gone to her Death, 1989)
  4. The Murders of Mrs Austin and Mrs Beale (1991)
  5. The Other Woman (1992)
  6. Murder…Now and Then (1993)
  7. A Shred of Evidence (1995)
  8. Verdict Unsafe (1997)
  9. Picture of Innocence (1998)
  10. Plots and Errors (1999)
  11. Scene of Crime (2001)
  12. Births, Deaths and Marriages: (US title: Death in the Family, 2002)
  13. Unlucky For Some (2004)

The author’s website, now maintained by her family, is: www.jillmcgown.co.uk/

I submit this review for Bev’s 2015 Silver Age Vintage Mystery Challenge bingo in the ‘author I’ve never read before’ category:


***** (3 fedora tips out of 5)

This entry was posted in 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge, England, Jill McGown. Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to A PERFECT MATCH (1983) by Jill McGown

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    I really like it when you highlight these series that don’t get the attention they should, Sergio. It’s an interesting premise for a pairing and a series, and I’m glad this one worked for you. I also think it’s interesting that the adaptation of this never really got off the ground. I could have seen it having potential… Excellent choice as ever, Sergio.

  2. tracybham says:

    I love this series, and plan on re-reading them all. Well, maybe not this one because I sort of remember how it ends. In fact I recently finished re-reading the 2nd one, Murder at the Old Vicarage.

    • Thanks for that Tracy – this does feel mostly like an introductory volume more than anything, though it was years before she really started writing the series. Look forward to Murder at the Old Vicarage, th enext one up for me

  3. Santosh Iyer says:

    “… but in the books (in the tradition of More and Columbo), we only know that D is his initial – and that he will punch out anybody who uses his actual first name.”
    I think you mean Morse and not More.

  4. Colin says:

    Like most modern series (and yes, I know this is over 30 years old, but still) these books passed me by. It might be of interest though, and the page count helps.

  5. Santosh Iyer says:

    The author is new to me. However, I have decided to start with The Murders of Mrs Austin and Mrs Beale (1991)

  6. mikeripley says:

    Jill McGown was a lovely lady who died far too young after battling cancer. At a crime writers’ convention in the ’90s she asked, rather shyly, if I would introduce her to Colin Dexter. In fact, Colin had taught her Latin at Grammar School and both of them were delighted at their “reunion”.

  7. Like Colin, I completely missed Jill McGown’s books. But, I’ll be on the look-out now that you’ve brought this series to our attention. Good Job!

  8. Steven Levine says:

    I’m glad to see this review. I’ve read most of the series and have wondered why McGown wasn’t better known.

    I think these make an interesting contrast with Deborah Crombie’s Duncan Kincaid / Gemma James series, which starts with a similar premise but develops very differently.

  9. Matt Paust says:

    Another new series for me. Thanks for the interesting introduction.

  10. Bev Hankins says:

    My first taste of Churchill was The Murders of Mrs Austin and Mrs Beale–which I enjoyed throughly, through a book club in the 90s. I’ve read bits and pieces of the series over the years, but although I enjoy them each time I read one it’s not one of those series where I just HAVE to find them and read them. If that makes sense.

  11. I know that I read one or two of these a good while ago. Thanks for the prompt to revisit the series.

  12. Todd Mason says:

    I’ll plump for Dob. Unless it was Dexter and he was punished in school for being left-handed.(Apparently and for no good reason I can imagine this was particularly common in US Catholic schools, where perhaps the instructors took Sinister rather too much to heart.)

  13. Yvette says:

    Another new series intro for me too, Sergio. I’m adding the name and titles to my list. Though I prefer my mysteries a bit longer than just 200 pages.

  14. Excellent choice for FFB, Sergio! Clearly, you have a knack for reading and reviewing books and series I have never heard of. I will keep an eye out for Jill McGown’s novels and try and read at least one of the 13 titles.

  15. I too am really taken with McGown – I did read some a few years ago, but am very impressed on a re-read. I’ve been jumping around in the series, and you can see she got better and better. I very much enjoyed Plots and Errors, which is most unusual, (and perhaps long enough for Yvette) and will do Murder at the Old Vicarage as a post over Christmastime. I didn’t blog on this one, but enjoyed it and thought you could really see the beginnings of her talent – some bits very predictable but some really inventive ideas too.
    A pity about the series – I would watch Philip Glenister in anything, and the relationship between the 2 cops was nicely done and should’ve made for a good plot strand.

    • Thansk very much Moira – look forward to your posta nd I will certainly be reading mor eof hers. I tend to want to start at the beginning and trundle through but that is not always the best way, let’s face it as some writers take a long time to get creatively on the boil!

  16. Pingback: AND ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE (1984) by Ed McBain | Tipping My Fedora

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