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I have in recent years been a big admirer of the writings of Sally Spencer. However as a rule I do not like period stories. So I thought this might be a challenge for me as this is a crime thriller set around the turn of the twentieth century. With this in mind I had another day due at the Hospital so I was hoping this Detective story would help pass the time.
==About the author:==
Sally Spencer is an English writer who now lives and writes in Spain. She specialises in crime thrillers with her most popular also being my favourite Inspector Woodend series which encompasses 20 stories. These have finished with the retirement of this Detective and she has now written four with his replacement and former junior DCI Paniatowski. The book I am about to review is the eighth and latest in the Blackstone series of Detective stories.
==Synopsis of the book:==
Inspector Sam Blackstone has been seconded to the New York Police Department from his home in England. Where he is working with Sergeant Alex Meade after the man he was brought over to take back home disappeared and he cannot return until he is recaptured. The inspector finds America in the year 1900 as so different from England but with the well educated and support of Sam at least he is coming to terms with his homesickness and missing the women he loves Dr Ellie Carr.
Blackstone finds himself in charge of a high profile murder and kidnapping on Coney Island. The men killed where the two security staff employed to protect the reclusive millionaire Bill Holt, who has spent the last seven years hiding in the basement of his lavish homes. As Bill has made his money at other people's expense and many of the men he partnered found their fortunes tumble. The catalyst to this lifestyle was when a attempt was made on his life by a partner he ruined.
This case is a real hot potato and Inspector Blackstone and Sergeant Meade realise if they don't solve it could mean the end of their Police career's as the kidnapped man is still a very powerful business man. And his two sons will put whatever pressure they can to ideally get their father back or make someone pay if he is murdered.
==My thoughts on this novel:==
I thought this was an excellent period Detective story. It was one I felt involved in all the way and one that had the same quality of writing on the first page and the last. As it was a classic mystery and one that had so many exciting twists and turns to it that I never knew the solution until it was spelt out to me at the end. But even then there was an unexpected twist/revelation on the last page that impressed and amused me.
As I said previously I enjoy the work of Sally Spencer, but I was worried by a story set in a very much earlier time period. I needed of been as I enjoyed a well thought out and interesting story. I think one of the reasons I struggle with period stories is the use some authors use of old English or words that we do not use any longer, I find this frustrating and sometimes cannot understand or follow what is going on. This book had none of that and as a result I was able to enjoy what was being said without having to read it several times and even then getting the wrong meaning from it.
My other concern I had when I considered the book was it was set in New York and I always seem to struggle understanding American culture. However maybe because we had an English author describing it I did not find it an issue at all. Indeed I enjoyed the background detail to the story and even the different American characters I found quite easy to understand and relate to. So again this was not a problem at all.
The only slight problem I did have and this only happened a few times during the story was with Dr Ellie Carr Blackstone's would be girlfriend. As she had an awful habit of talking in Cockney and this I did find difficult to understand and a bit like the Americans she was usually addressing I needed some sort of interpretor to fathom out what she had said.
The thing that first drew me to this book when I spotted it in the bookshop was that it was written by an author I admire and have never been disappointed by. So I looked at it and the title also quite appealed as I have always been interested in Wall Street and I was keen to know more about this Wolf and how an Englishman would solve a case in America.
Before deciding whether to buy I flicked the book over and read the summary on the back cover. And with the exception of telling me it was the year 1900 everything else the author covered in the three short paragraphs appealed to me. I like a Detective who is made to struggle against the odds and from the detailed summary that was exactly what Inspector Blackstone was going to find. The idea that this was an investigation that that no one else wanted also appealed to me.
The story began with an excellent prologue. I always think a relevant prologue is the right way to start any book. This one took the reader back seven years to the incident that turned the millionaire Bill Holt into a recluse. It was good because it gave some background into his life and a little of the bad things he had done. Added to which it was a good size at six and a half pages. It had me wanting to know more about this man's life and the dodgy deals he had done.
When the actual story began it started by introducing Inspector Blackstone and his American assistant Sergeant Meade. I found this very useful because you where told the background as to why they where working together and some details about each of the two main characters, so that you could understand their separate situations. It was easy to follow and I found I was very soon engrossed in the story, especially when they where assigned this tricky case that no-one else would want.
I liked the way the story developed and how Blackstone and his partner found it difficult to get information from people. It was a story that was well paced and I had no idea what would happen next within it and there where plenty of possible suspects to consider. It was also enjoyable to see both the Detectives when they where relaxing in the evening and at these times you learnt more about their thoughts and feelings. There for me was a good balance between work and social and it helped me understand the characters better and what made them tick.
With the story coming to a climax so did the excitement within it. As the pace quickened and the Inspector started to piece together exactly what he thought the answers where. It solution impressed me no end and it was something that was well thought out and superbly executed by the author, as the clues where there but I for one never picked up on them and put them together correctly. And while there was no epilogue on this occasion it really was not necessary, as I suspect there will be another story to follow this one shortly.
I am a miserable person (you have probably worked that out by the fact I am mean with giving E's for reviews!!) and as a result I do struggle with love interest stories. This one had one and I not only enjoyed it but I wanted the two characters to get together. I think it was because it was more in the background, I found it credible and I think it also helped that I liked the characters concerned and wanted them to find a bit of happiness together, so for once for me it was something that added a little extra spice to the story.
Inspector Sam Blackstone was the stories and the series lead character. I found him an excellent characters and one being so far away from home it was easy to relate to as far as his feelings went. I really enjoyed the interaction he had with Sergeant Meade especially the fact they were from both different cultures and social backgrounds. For me this lead character was good because he was an average man and as a result I found him easy to understand and sympathise with.
Plus and importantly as far as I am concerned he was supported by excellent support characters. I think what really helped with them was the very good descriptions of them so that I could imagine and remember each one. The author had a very clear personality for each and because they always seem to act consistently within this I grew to know and understand them as the story unfolded.
I think the only thing the story really lacked was humour but then I did not read this thriller for that!! It was a superbly written story and one that I found easy to enjoy. The length was exactly right and the depth within the story was certainly good enough to make the reader think about what was happening within the story. I for one will be looking to route out the earlier books in this series as this was a pleasurable read.
I really enjoyed this Detective story and despite it being the fourth in the series I did not feel I had missed out for not having read them first. It is certainly a book I would recommend as it was a very well thought out story that had clever twists within it. I found it easy to read and once I had picked it up I did not want to want it down again until I had finished it.
Publisher: Severn House
About the author: www.sallyspencer.com
Year first Published: 2010
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
© CPTDANIELS April 2012.