When Inspector Steve Carmichael and his family move from London to the village of Moulton Bank in rural Lancashire they all expect a quieter existence, both domestically and professionally. After a career in the Met, Steve doubts that his new post will present much of a challenge, but is pleased to escape the intrigues of his old force, and knows that the move will delight his wife Penny, who spent her childhood in Moulton Bank.
LITTLE WHITE LIES is a debut novel from Ian McFadyen - drawing on most of the classic elements of the small English village mystery, combined with some elements of a classic police procedural.
Steve and his family have moved away from his big city policing job, to a small village where Penny grew up. He's taken the position of Chief Inspector in the local town's force, but he wasn't really expecting his first major investigation to be the death of a woman in his own village. The fact that Penny knows the victim, and all the possible suspects, as they were all at school together helps him to understand their backgrounds, but it also means that the crime is uncomfortably close to home.
It's interesting how the personal and the professional intertwined in this book - especially as despite Steve being headquartered in the larger town 30 minutes or so from his village, he spends a fair amount of time very near to home. Alongside the investigation, there's the story of his family settling into the area. Penny is reacquainting herself with many of her childhood friends whilst their 3 children are making new friends. Steve is establishing himself within his new police force, and with his own superior officer, as well as a new investigation team.
The mystery itself is reasonably complicated with - as you'd expect from this scenario - some elements that reach back many years to when the victim, Penny and all their friends were young, as well as events from more recent times. As more victims are discovered, a possible connection starts to be revealed which clarifies the possible motive in some ways, and complicates it in others.
Steve is definitely a bit of a stuffed shirt at times throughout the book, although he's not totally unlikeable. There are some odd elements to the personal aspects of the characters lives and therein possibly the only real clanger. Penny's reaction when she discovers Steve's one night stand with a member of his investigation team seemed a bit too idealistic, although her resolution of the issue was nicely sneaky. All in all an interesting debut novel - readable with a reasonable mystery at the centre and some characters that show some promise for future development.