Posted on January 14, 2021
⭐⭐⭐Rating: 3 out of 5.
Detective Samantha Jazz has just returned to work after traumatically witnessing the murder of her father, who was also a detective, but a dirty one. She and her partner, Detective Ethan Langford are assigned to a murder case which takes place at a poetry reading. She quickly determines that the killer is obsessed with poetry and assigns him the nickname of The Poet. Quite early on in the investigation, the computer expert finds a Professor Newman Smith who, for one semester, had a course called Abstract Poetry and Criminology. On the strength of this information alone, Jazz is convinced that Newman (she always refers to him by his first name) is their man and concentrates her investigation solely on him. For most of the first half of the book, Jazz charges about energetically trying to trap Newman in spite of lack of evidence and advice from several people who caution her to broaden her thinking.
It is only when Newman is proved to be innocent of the killings and the investigation goes off in a different direction that I began to get invested in the story, although Jazz still isn’t any nearer to finding the elusive Poet. It is left to the sections written from the killer’s point of view to reveal a large part of his motivations. I felt a bit cheated because the denouement is all crammed into the final few chapters, revealed to Jazz almost by happenstance, so there was no build up of tension to keep the reader eager to know if their suspicions were right. Overall, I felt that this was a book I should be really enjoying. Jazz is quite feisty, secondary characters are really well drawn in and there is a liberal sprinkling of red herrings and some deft touches of humour. Unfortunately, it was let down by an unrealistic plot which required too much of a suspension of belief for me. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Posted on January 12, 2021
⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4 out of 5.
I had read The Snow Killer, the first of this trilogy, quite some time ago and couldn’t quite remember all the details. It was referred to a fair bit so I’ll go back and read it again!
I like Greenwood’s style of writing. It flows smoothly and coherently and, although the book was written from two differing viewpoints and also in first person as well as third person, I felt rooted in the plot at all times.
It was a book of two halves for me; the first part was slow as the author teased out the personality and raison d’être of the killer and DI Barton and his team seemed to do a lot of conjecturing; the second half fairly galloped along and I have to admit I found some of it a little hard to swallow.
However, he does a great job on characterisation and I really warmed to John Barton and his team. I was a bit disappointed that the identity of the killer was revealed so early on. As the middle book of a trilogy based round DI Barton, it was obvious he would bring the case to a successful conclusion, so I felt the revelation robbed the book of the tension that usually builds in the last third.All in all, a quick and easy read and I have just downloaded The Ice Killer. Poor old John Barton. I note he is still in his hospital bed when I checked the Look Inside. I can’t wait to see what is in store for him next.
Posted on December 31, 2020
⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4 out of 5.
I’m a long time fan of Val McDermid and was pretty sure I’d read all her books, so I was surprised (and delighted) to come across A Place of Execution from 2009. It’s an impressive size at 486 pages.
The story begins when a thirteen year old girl goes missing from the tiny village of Scarsdale in Derbyshire. Wet-behind-the-ears Detective Inspector George Bennett is in charge of his first big investigation and determined to do a good, conscientious job of bringing the girl home. He and his sidekick, Sergeant Tommy Clough, are not met with any enthusiasm by the residents of Scardale, who – between them – share only three surnames. I struggled a bit in this section trying to pin down the complicated relationships between these similarly named people.
Set in 1963, the story is well rooted in its time with lots of references to music, sport etc as gentle reminders of how different the world was then. I could have done without the constant references to the victims of the Moors Murderers.
Although it was possible to draw
a tenuous link between them and the missing girl, I found these passages intrusive and not relevant to the story.
The first half of the book dragged a little for me as the worthy and stolid police officers worked their way through a series of clues which culminated in the arrest and conviction of a suspect. There was a lot of repetitive smoking, drinking and chewing the fat along the way.
In 1998, George Bennet collaborates with a journalist to write a book about the event and, just as they are about to go to press, a shocking revelation is uncovered. From this point onwards, the book is riveting and I doubt if many people will guess the ending. I had a small “what if” moment about a third the way through the book but dismissed it because the plot very cleverly took me in a different direction.
I nearly gave up in the first third of the book because of the slow pace and the difficulty in keeping pace with the multiple characters, but am really glad I didn’t because I would have missed the real OMG! moment. If I read it again, though, I’ll probably skip the early chapters.
Circles of Confusion
Published June 2020
Ashes on the Tongue
To be published