A Conflict of Interests by Claire Gradidge

My enormous thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for A Conflict of Interests by Claire Gradidge and to Zaffre for sending me a copy of of the book in return for an honest review.

A Conflict of Interests was published by Zaffre on 13th October 2022 and is available for purchase here.

A Conflict of Interests

June 1944, Romsey, England.

Josephine ‘Jo’ Fox is at an impasse since the unwelcome return of her wayward husband Richard. So, when he disappears again, she is neither concerned nor surprised – until a burning car is discovered with a body inside. And there are signs that Richard is somehow involved.

Jo is determined to find both her husband and answers, yet with her friend Bram Nash in hospital suffering an infection of his old war wound, she must do so alone. When information comes to light that implicates Bram too, Jo finds herself on a dangerous path to the truth.

But what will be left for her when all is revealed?

My Review of A Conflict of Interests

I expected a gentle, meandering cosy crime in A Conflict of Interests, but I was soon disabused of that assumption as it opens in dramatic fashion in a manner that engages the reader instantly and keeps them enthralled throughout.

The plot is fast paced and cleverly constructed to keep the reader guessing. I thought the timed and dated chapter headings with the italicised narrative interspersing Jo’s first person story, gave impetus that compelled me on. I kept thinking I’d just read one more chapter and found myself devouring A Conflict of Interests because I found it exciting and interesting.

I loved meeting Josephine Fox and am now desperate to read more with her as the protagonist. Jo is feisty and feminist, reckless and measured, intelligent and passionate, so that she is an ideal heroine. The depiction of her relationship with Richard made my blood boil whereas I was desperate for her to find happiness with Bram. Claire Gradidge made me care about Jo completely and I found myself cheering for her all the way.

Indeed, all the characters are so convincing, particularly the insidious Alec, so that A Conflict of Interests is peopled by realistic and fascinating individuals that really bring the narrative to life. I thought they were brilliantly depicted.

The themes weaving through the story give real texture. Social mores, the place of women in society, war and conflict, loyalty and morality, mental and physical health, rivalry, betrayal and courage all swirl through an absolutely super read, giving plenty for the reader to think about. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book.

Set against a brilliantly authentic, but not intrusive, historical backdrop, A Conflict of Interests manages to be a thriller, a romance and a social history that educates, entrances and entertains. I thought it was excellent and thoroughly recommend it.

About Claire Gradidge

Claire Gradidge was born and brought up in Romsey. After a career as, among other things, a nurse and a school librarian, she went to the University of Winchester, where she graduated in 2009 with a first class honours BA in Creative Writing. In January 2018, she was awarded a PhD in creative writing and The Unexpected Return of Josephine Fox was written as the creative element of her PhD study. An early version of the opening 3000 words was highly commended in the Good Housekeeping Magazine competition in 2012.

Claire has taught at the University of Winchester as an Associate Lecturer for six years and has also had some short fictions and poems published in South, Orbis and Vortex. She has been married for 40 years and has two adult sons.

Follow Claire on Twitter @ClaireGradidge for more information.

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