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Inspector Ramsay Books In Order

Publication Order of Inspector Ramsay Books

A Lesson in Dying (1990) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Murder in My Backyard (1991) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Day in the Death of Dorothea Cassidy (1992) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Killjoy (1993) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Healers (1995) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Baby Snatcher (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle


The Inspector Ramsay mysteries are set in the English county of Northumberland, and the first book in the series is called “A Lesson in Dying”. In this story, we find Inspector Ramsay’s reputation hanging in the balance while he’s investigating the murder of a headmaster in a close-knit Northumbrian pit village. The headmaster was quite a nasty fellow and people either feared him or hated him. He’s found hanged, still wearing his favorite academic gown, which he used to keep in his office. After a brief investigation, the conclusion is that the headmaster was murdered and so the people are now left looking suspiciously at one another.

No one liked the headmaster, including his own wife and so there was no shortage of suspects. Some of the people that were being suspected of murdering the headmaster include his fellow teachers and members of the Parents Teachers Association (PTA). Inspector Ramsay highly suspects the headmaster’s wife of murdering him and so he arrests her. When she later commits suicide, that’s when Inspector Ramsay’s reputation starts to take a beating and he becomes a very unpopular figure in the village. He’s already a loner and this incident makes him more withdrawn at the police station.

An old flame comes to the rescue of the headmaster’s wife with the determination to absolve her of the murder crime that she is facing. Jack Robson is the name of this former lover and he does his own investigations because he is not convinced that she is the killer. His daughter Patty also helps him to investigate the murder. The good thing about the plot is that at one time or the other, different characters in the story appear guilty of the murder. The pace of the story is good and on the overall, it is a great effort at writing your first novel.

Even though there are many obvious suspects, the author hasn’t done enough to develop them. The headmaster’s wife seems the least bothered that she’s being accused of killing her husband. We don’t really get to know the reason why she committed suicide. Maybe the author could have explored this area instead of leaving it hanging. We also know that Ramsay is not popular but the author doesn’t get under the skin of his character to let the reader understand what is going on. There’s a lot that has simply not been developed by the author but this may be understandable since it’s her first novel.

Another thing that is not clear is the setting. We’re told that the setting is Northumberland but the author hasn’t explored the scene. If the author could try to paint a more vivid picture of the setting, the story could be more engaging to the readers. When you read the book, you feel as if the author came up with the basic plot of the story and then decided to write the story. The satisfying thing is that even though the author starts on a weak note, she comes on really strong in the subsequent books. It’s just like they say; a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.

The second book in the Inspector Ramsay series is called “Murder In My Backyard”. In this story, no one in Heppleburn has a bad word to say about Alice Parry, but here she is, murdered in her own backyard on a bitter St. David’s Eve. So Ramsay starts to poke around asking questions around the village and he starts to see an ambiguous picture starting to emerge. There’s no doubt that everybody loved Mrs. Parry but sometimes she was too kind for her own good.

For instance, she had two nephews who showed much devotion towards her, but then they didn’t like it when she interfered with their somewhat complicated personal relationships. Among her neighbors, Mrs. Parry tried to help wherever she could but sometimes her actions backfired. After her death, there was so much tension in the air that you could cut it with a knife. The people in the village became uneasy as the suspects kept rolling in. The bad news was that the person who killed Mrs. Parry was still continuing with the killings and so it was up to Ramsay to get to the bottom of the mysterious killings.

Like it has been stated, the author began on a rather weak note but if the second book is any indication, it appears like she has learnt from the mistakes in the first book. In Murder In My Backyard, the author starts to paint a more realistic and compelling picture of life in the village. The story is filled with believable yet eccentric characters and you feel as if the author is talking about your next door neighbor. The plot, suspense and mystery were very strong throughout the book and the author keeps you guessing until the very last minute.

Twists and turns are just around the corner, and in the second book, the author totally redeems herself. The author also draws from real life situations and so you can relate to what the characters in the book are going through. Among the issues that she tackles are mental illness and drug dependency, which combined well to enrich the characters in the book. The reader will particularly enjoy the way the author brings the village to life, which was an element that was lacking in the first book.

The good thing is that the Inspector Ramsay series doesn’t end with these two books and there are other great books for your reading pleasure. If you enjoy the classic murder mystery, then you will be glad to note that the author has done a great job in the other books in the series. The stories get more interesting and the characters get more complex as you continue reading this series. It’s almost as if the author is making up for lost time and she’s trying to correct the mistakes that she did in the first book. Either way, the fact remains that the author has become a better writer with each subsequent book, which is wonderful news for the readers.

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