Month: July 2012

Tuesday’s Gone – Nicci French

Title – Tuesday’s Gone

Author – Nicci French

Published – July 2012

Genre – Crime fiction

I wasn’t really won over by the first of the Nicci French ‘Frieda Klein’ series – Blue Monday. I didn’t quite take to the new character, or the prospect of 8 books featuring her, but I was still keen to read the second title, courtesy of Penguin Books.

I have to say that this might be quite a short review because I don’t want to give too much of the story away. The premise is that a naked corpse is found in the home of a woman with mental health problems who was recently released from hospital. With Chief Inspector Karlsson on the case, and the investigating team unable to get any sense from the woman, it was inevitable that he would approach Frieda Klein for help. Klein is dealing with her own problems, but is drawn to the case – wanting to make order out of the disorder.

The new mystery that Klein finds herself caught up in is intriguing and well told, with a good pace that doesn’t leave all the interest until the end of the book. There were one or two moments where I had to go back and read a section over a couple of times to follow the action – but I think that was my fault rather than the authors’! Klein still feels like a hard character to get to know – both for the other participants in the story as well as the reader, but she’s a little easier to understand and sympathise with in this second book. She also seems to be less of an insomniac, and there’s not so much walking the streets at night.

What surprised and pleased me was that although set around a year after Blue Monday there are threads from that story continued through this one. I’m not a fan of books which don’t reach a definitive conclusion, but if this continues it will make the series more interesting to follow.

Unusually I’m not sure if this would really stand on its own, I think there’s too much that depends on the reader being familiar with the story and characters in Blue Monday. It’s good for those of us who have read the first in the series because there’s not a huge amount of repetition, but for someone new to the series it might lack enough background.

This is a really good second book in the series and I half regret giving Blue Monday 4 out of 5, as this is a much better read. I’m looking forward to finding out what Wednesday brings!

It looks like Petrona agrees with me!

Score – 4/5

The Dark Winter – David Mark

Title – The Dark Winter

Author – David Mark

Published – 2012

Genre – Crime fiction

When I was asked by the folk at Quercus if I would like to review this debut I only got as far as reading that it was set in Hull before saying “yes”.  Despite moving “down South” when I was small, Hull is where my roots are and it’s not often I come across a book set there.

Following a prologue set on a supertanker 70 miles off the icelandic coast, we meet Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy. It’s just a few weeks before Christmas and McAvoy is out in Hull city centre, having a coffee and looking after his four-year old son, when screams from the Christmas service at the church opposite interrupt them. Seeming to forget about his son McAvoy heads towards the source of the commotion and manages to run headfirst into a machete-wielding attacker who has already killed a young altar server. Luckily for us McAvoy only suffers a minor injury, and as his own luck would have it, despite his lowly status, he is the senior officer on call. Thrilled at the prospect of taking the reins his enthusiasm is quickly dampened when (Acting) Detective Superintendent Trish Pharoah cancels her plans so that she can take charge of the investigation. At which point a disgruntled McAvoy finds himself sent on a visit to a bereaved woman as a favour to the Assistant Chief Constable.

It soon becomes clear that the CID team has recently suffered some internal problems and McAvoy seems to have been at the centre of the trouble. As they face an increasing body count, McAvoy struggles with his own concerns about his place within the team and the antagonism he perceives towards him.

Described throughout as a “gentle giant” McAvoy’s size gives him an advantage over the criminals, who don’t see the gentler side that his fellow officers see, but despite the perception, he’s still no push-over.  In fact he actually acts the maverick on the investigations, taking the initiative where perhaps he shouldn’t. But this is because he believes that he holds the key to the investigations and is the only one who can possibly solve the crimes. Of course his ego may be getting just a little ahead of him!

He doesn’t have the usual traits of leading police characters – he’s not a drinker, isn’t divorced, in he fact has a seemingly happy home life with a wife he adores, his young son and a new baby on the way. But there is still a secret behind his relationship with his wife that colours their relationship, and impacts on the story. Along the way there’s also a suggestion of some sexual tension between McAvoy and Pharoah – perhaps something that will be resolved in a future book?

It’s good to see the setting of Hull being used to the full, and anyone who reads a story set in a location they know well will understand the pleasure you get from picturing the location rather than imagining it. I do hope that Mark uses Hull in the way Peter James does Brighton, rather than the way Craig Robertson does Glasgow!

Although this is perhaps an unremarkable police procedural, it is a well told story with an engaging lead character. The writing has quite a lyrical quality to it and in McAvoy I could see shades of a young Andy Dalziel, though perhaps from a more politically correct time! I hope we see more of Aector McAvoy.

You can see another review of this title at I Will Read Books.

Score – 4/5

Crime Awards – the Daggers

This is the first year where I’ve really been aware of the CWA awards and had high hopes of managing to read the bulk of at least one of the lists in advance of the announcement of the winners. When the first tranche of shortlists were announced at Crimefest in May earlier this year things didn’t look promising. Of the awards where I was likely to have read any or some of the books (the International and  Ellis Peters Historical Daggers ) I had read one title which had the good fortune to be on both lists – I Will Have Vengeance.

So I decided that to read the rest of either list was too much to manage in the time between the announcement & the awards.  Which means that I must now look to the second set of awards (the Gold Dagger, the Steel Dagger, and the John Creasey Dagger) for a better opportunity. So where should I concentrate my efforts?

It looks like it will be the Gold Dagger. Of the 8 long-listed titles I have read three:

A Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash
The Flight by M.R. Hall
The Child Who by Simon Lelic

With just The Child Who by Simon Lelic on the Steel list, and Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne and A Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash on the John Creasey.

So if I want to have a go at reading a complete list I will need to crack on with:

Vengeance in Mind by N.J. Cooper
Grandad, There’s a Head on the Beach by Colin Cotterill
The Rage by Gene Kerrigan
Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
Bereft by Chris Womersley

by, er, whenever the winners are announced. I guess I may be some time!

Any tips on where I should start?