A Means of Escape – Joanna Price

Title – A Means of Escape

Author – Joanna Price

Published – November 2011

Genre – Crime fiction

 I was lucky to be offered the chance to review an Advance Reading Copy of this debut crime novel from Joanna Price. Due to be published by Aston Bay Press on 1st November 2011 it is unusual in that they plan to publish the hardback, paperback and ebook all on the same day. The book is the first in a series of three titles featuring the lead character of DS Kate Linton.

A grizzly and cold November morning. Detective Sergeant Kate Linton is called on Glastonbury Tor where a young woman has been strangled. Twelve holes are found at the scene, surrounded by wax, evidence of garden flares – the only connection to two other unsolved cases. When another young woman and a TV celebrity go missing, Linton is in a race against time to find the serial killer before he strikes again. But, when her journalist ex-boyfriend is singled out as a chief suspect, Linton feels that events are heading a bit too close to home. A Means of Escape presents an intricate, gripping mystery plot, combined with a focus on the heroine’s personal life as she juggles an unwelcome attraction for her good-looking and charismatic superior with her efforts to become closer to her estranged family.

Wasting no time the story opens with the discovery of a body on Glastonbury Tor. Assigned to the case are DS Kate Linton and her boss, DI Rob Brown. It very quickly becomes clear that they don’t have a conventional work relationship, with lots of irreverent banter between them. After the team link the murder to two unsolved deaths in nearby Avebury, a local girl mysteriously disappears. The missing girl is a diabetic and seems not to have her medication with her, adding to the pressure the team is under to produce results. 

Linton finds herself putting in long hours working on the case while trying to balance that with a rather unpredictable private life. She has a mysteriously “ex” fiancé, a troubled brother, and a father who is a would-be crime writer.  Add into this her history with the local reporter and a bout of tonsillitis!

As well as Linton’s point of view, we also follow the activities of several other characters, including the sister of the missing girl. There are quite a few “secrets” in the book with oblique references being made to events which have happened in the past, and during the course of the book these are revealed to the reader. As you would expect from a book set in Glastonbury, the story is peppered with references to some of the New Age influences on the town and the people, and there’s a possible link between the murders and local spiritual sites.

 The book has a very down-to-earth feel about it, with lots of realistic dialogue and detail. The author has an easy writing style and this is an enjoyable police procedural with the added interest of some “will they, won’t they” romantic interest between Linton and Brown.

Score – 3/5

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