The Green Bicycle Mystery is part of the Cold Case Jury series published by Mirror Books. The real-life murder of twenty-two year old Bella Wright in 1919 achieved notoriety partly because of the bucolic Leicestershire setting and by the shocking nature of the killing, the victim was shot in an isolated country lane. The green bicycle in the case is connected to a suspect who was seen in the vicinity of the murder, later thought to be Ronald Light who hid his bicycle for months afterwards and then disposed of it in a canal.
In the book, Brown meticulously sets the scene of a rural Leicestershire village reeling from the effects of the Great War. Bella is part of of close knit family who cycles to post some letters she’d written that afternoon. Brown makes a good job of re-imagining the conversations firstly of the family and then of the police and other witnesses after her body is discovered. The police come off particularly well. Bella is initially thought to have died in a cycling accident until a police constable discovers a .455 cabler bullet near the body.
Light, a shell-shocked former solder, is eventually arrested for the crime and is tried at Leicester castle. I won’t give any spoilers as to the result although the case is pretty famous as one of the trials defended by Sir Edward Marshall-Hall. At the end of the book, readers are given the view of the author as to the likely scenario that led to Bella’s death and then other possibly verdicts that have been suggested by earlier writers documenting the case. Finally, you are invited to share your verdict on coldcasejury.com
Although it takes a while to get going, the book is great fun with a strong sense of the period within which it is set. This is helped by the period cover and helpful case notes within the text. Ultimately, I think the true narrative of events is unlikely ever to be revealed but the book certain made me read around the case. I was touched to discover that an annual bike ride still take place to commemorate Bella’s last journey.