Injured Parties: Solving the Murder of Dr Helen Davidson resolves the cold murder case committed in Hodgemoor Wood, Amersham in 1966. After interviewing author Monica Weller in the BFP last week (read it here) I could not wait to read find out the truth. 

The book begins on November 9, 1966, taking you through the final movements of Dr Helen Davidson as she headed to Hodgemoor Wood with her terrier, Fancy, and binoculars for bird watching. Something she did every Wednesday on her afternoon off.

At 2.30pm the following day her body was found brutally murdered, after a search in which 100 army troops joined the local police.

With no known enemies, Detective Chief Superintendent Jack Williams of New Scotland Yard surmised she “has spied illicit lovers, was spotted, and one or both of them killed her.”

Bucks Free Press:

Through speaking to those involved in the investigation Monica reveals many wrongdoings by the team such as ignoring the testimony of a fellow GP who said they saw her in Amersham so late in the afternoon that it would have already been dark by the time she reached the woods, apparently for bird watching.

Or the fact the forensic pathologist did not carry out DNA tests available at that time which would have determined whether the blood at the scene, on Dr Davidson’s gloves and on the apparent murder weapon – a burnt piece of poplar wood, a type that did not exist within the forest – matched that of Dr Davidson. The list goes on.

Bucks Free Press:

The reader is then introduced to a few main suspects. Her husband, 31 years her senior, who she married at 44-years-old, keeping her maiden name. As somebody who was loved throughout her community it came as a surprise that she would marry Herbert Baker, with whom people had no fondness or affiliation, it appeared to be a marriage of convenience.

Her husband’s housekeeper, who had helped care for his first wife before her death and who many believed had a soft spot for Herbert Baker and may had hoped to fill his late wife’s shoes.

Slightly more inconspicuous were two motorcyclists who were involved in a road accident with Dr Davidson in 1961, an event that police swept under the carpet so as to not impinge on on the doctor’s reputation. The crash was entirely her fault and caused one young man, just 21, such physical and emotional damage that his life was turned upside down quite unbelievably.

The book is not fast-paced, something I struggled with slightly. But it leaves no stone unturned and no questions unanswered as Monica takes you through her thought process in great detail.

You meet many people of Amersham and hear their stories, you meet the investigatory team and learn about the successes and failures of their process.

You are talked through the details of the lives of the victim, the suspects and their families. Creating a picture spanning back to before their birth, through their childhoods, adolescence, adult lives before and after the murder, and with a clear and wide-set picture of Amersham during the years of 1966 and 1967.

Injured Parties: Solving the Murder of Dr Helen Davidson is made up of seven years’ worth of detailed investigation and thought, reading too quickly would take away from the world that surrounded Dr Davidson and continued after her murder. Read it slowly and with care, it will take careful consideration on your part to see what is coming. I missed it entirely.

Published by The History Press: Review by Mattie Lacey-Davidson