==Synopsis of the book:==
When a burnt out car is discovered in woodland between Fulmer and Stoke Poges the Police immediately suspect joyriders. However their interest in the wreck changes when a charred body is found in the boot. It is now a murder investigation and Superintendent Mike Yeading and his team must start the painstaking process of identify the corpse and tracing the owner of this luxury vehicle.
The investigation takes the Team to Maidenhead where a television filming company have just completed the latest series of drama 'All Fired Up'. This is where their problems really start as the whole cast and support staff are now away enjoying a break after a heavy filming schedule. Especially as the body cannot be identified because of its awful condition. The cars owner is discovered to be Margot Charrington the Director of the television production, but she has disappeared and after a couple of days with no word from her they start to believe they have found their dead woman. Now all they need to do is find out how and why she was murdered, or is it more complicated than that?
==My thoughts on the novel:==
For me this was a mixed Detective story and I am really undecided as the whether I enjoyed it or not. I suppose if the story was broken in two I could be more decisive as the first half was awful and the second half excellent. Quite a contrast!! but that is exactly how is seemed to me and I will try to explain why I this over the next course of this review.
Let me start at the beginning but telling you a little about the author. Clare Curzon is a pseudonym used by Marie Buchanan. After studying Psychology at King's College in London she started to write predominantly crime thrillers in the 1960's. Thus far she has written 33 novels of which the majority 24 are part of the Mike Yeadings series of Detective stories. This book I am reviewing is the 23rd and was first published in 2009.
Maybe that was part of my initial problem that I selected a story so late in the series and if I had bought an earlier one I would have get into it better earlier on in it. However I think it is important to be able to pick up any book from any series and enjoying it without feeling you have missed something important by not reading the earlier stories first. This was admittedly the first time I had read one from this series and the first time I had even considered a Clare Curzon book. And being a simple soul I often find I need to read a couple of books from an author to really understand them and get used to their style of writing.
I found this book in one of the many charity shops in my town, nine at last count. I selected it on three counts, firstly I liked the title, which is a bit simplistic of me. I liked the thought of what looked like a burnt out vehicle from the diagram on the front cover and I wanted to know the background behind it and who was responsible for it. Secondly, I often feel I do not experiment enough with new authors, I tend to stick with what I know and like. So I was keen to try this author particularly when I discovered she had already written so many of them.
The last reason I selected this book was down to the excellent summary of the story on the inside cover. It was only two paragraphs long but these where a good size and dealt with two factors. One it described the Police finding the burnt out car and then the discovery of the charred body in the boot. This coupled with second paragraph which set the scene at the production company working on their new series 'All Fired up' really sold the book to me. Plus additionally it was in the shops sale and only cost two pounds so I couldn't go far wrong their either. However I should point out so far I have checked various web sites and I can only find this book in hardback format, which unless you purchase this second hand can make it an expensive purchase.
The story started appropriately enough with a prologue. This was a good length eight pages and set the scene for the discovery of the car and dead body and immediately had me involved in the story. What also helped was because they were talking about places I knew well in Fulmer and Stoke Poges where the car was discovered. The whole story was set around where I live and I was impressed the television production company was set in my home town of Maidenhead.
I was subsequently surprised that the story then went back in time to the previous week to the events at the filming of the last programme in the television series. Maybe because this was out of sequence I found myself getting confused and it the author seemed keen to introduce all the characters plus all the dynamics and politics surrounding a television production. Following several characters and getting their viewpoint on what was happening to them and how they saw what was happening all around them.
For me this was far too long as it went on for over 100 pages. I kept wanting the investigation to start especially as I knew they had already found this burnt out car with a body in it and it had to be related with this television programme in some way, especially as it focused on Margot. And while the author successfully created some interesting characters I found it all quite dull and difficult to relate to, as all the actors and those involved in the creation of this production where selfish and only interested in things from their own viewpoint.
It was during this time I considered giving up the book, which is something I hate and rarely do. I just wasn't enjoying it and I just couldn't get into the politics and personality surrounding this television production. So I was relieved when the story returned to the Police investigation. This I found far more interesting and I started to enjoy how they went about solving the crimes. What I really liked was certainly one excellent surprising twist in the story which I hoped for and it added more spice to it.
The only thing I did struggle a little with was who exactly was who within the Police investigation team. I think this was because I was new to this series of stories and for me the dynamics of the team was not explained and I felt I knew little about each one of them. I would have liked more detail so I could understand them and a little about their personal situations as I didn't feel much affinity to them only the clever way the story developed.
The story had an exciting conclusion, which I felt was cleverly thought out but I would have liked to expanded and a little more meat on the bone as to what happened. It felt a little rushed and while it made sense a little more explanation would have had me convinced. Maybe an epilogue would have helped with this as I felt content with what I had read by nothing more.
For the first half of the story the lead character seemed to be Margot Charrington. I found her very difficult to like, understand or even relate to. She was just so driven in her work it was like her children were not very high in her priority list. And while she and the group who were involved in the production where well described and easy to identify, I didn't like the way the author kept moving from one to another to provide a little insight into them. I know why she did this to cast doubt and mystery on their characters I just felt it could have been done with more detail without giving too much away.
For me the length of the story was too short. I felt at times it was too rushed particularly towards the end. I thought the author could have brought more suspense into the story but extending it. Additionally I never felt I knew enough about the characters within the story, I think the author would have been better focusing and explaining the viewpoints of fewer key characters. Certainly the story had possibilities but I do not feel the author exploited the good concepts she had brought up as well as they could have been.
I do not feel I can recommend this book simply because I found the first half hard to get into. And while the second half was much better I fell I need to read another in the series to get a better understanding of this authors abilities. On the plus side I did enjoy the actual investigation itself it was just a shame it took so long to happen.
Price: 16.99 New at Amazon
Publisher: Allison & Busby
ISBN-13: 978- 0749007119
Year originally published: 2009
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
© CPTDANIELS September 2012.