The cold war overshadows When the tide turned, the second in Marion Eaton’s Mysterious Marsh Series.

Instead of Kennedy pitting his wits against Khrushchev, solicitor Hazel Dawkins – the bulwark against evil in Eaton’s When the clocks stopped – returns to take on more dodgy characters. This time, at the outset, her husband Bruce tells her that ‘I’ve been taken over by something malevolent’.  And things start to go bump in the day when Hazel joins Farthing & Change, where she had worked as an assistant solicitor,  as a locum. Even one of her clients, Hector Harris, feels murderous.

Author: M L Eaton
Touchworks Ltd
£9.49

So the ever-resourceful Hazel,  this time with baby Jessica in tow, is thrust once more into a maelstrom of dramatic events – blackmail, kidnapping and shooting – that swirl around a painting, whose value lies less in  wire transfers than in a hidden message. In all of this Hazel acts nothing less than professional and is the embodiment of a Handbook’s dry precepts, especially in standing up to Hector who accuses her of acting unprofessionally and demands that she be struck off.

When a ‘black spiralling energy had overtaken’ Bruce again and the legends of Iron Will and Napoleon are evoked, you think a ghostly back story is taking shape. In When the clocks stopped, Hazel’s disturbing dreams took on a disturbing quality that led to her occupying a different dimension. In When the tide turned, she dreams of watching a boat sink in a storm and later learns the significance of the incoming tide in the first quarter of the August mooon, yet Hazel’s actions are anchored to the serious reality of client confidentiality.

The story is more akin to staring down the barrel of a thriller. In placing Jessica in danger too – she accompanies Hazel to work – Eaton stokes our real fears of a child at risk, especially in a ‘warren of rooms and corridors’. No less interesting than the gun-toting incidents, are the torn sheets from an old probate file, and break-ins at the law firm. Eaton weaves thread upon thread of incident and by the end has reeled them all in to a satisfactory conclusion.

Hazel is clearly doing things beyond the scope of her practicing certificate, but I would have preferred a shorter book featuring more about those sinister invisible forces, and perhaps told from Bruce’s point of view too.

Nicholas Goodman is a Gazette sub-editor