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Dead Secret: A Diane Fallon Forensic Investigation - Beverly Connor

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Author: Beverly Connor / Paperback / 400 Pages / Book is published 2005-12-06 by Onyx Books

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      05.07.2008 12:43
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      Certainly one to pick up if you love Kathy Reich's and early Patricia Cornwall.

      Dead Secret - Beverly Connor.

      ~ A little about the author ~

      Beverly Conner is American, and used to work as an archaeologist. Her speciality was bone analysis and stone tool analysis. This was mostly in the South East of the States, and as a result you do get some of her experiences in this profession coming through in her writing.

      ~ Synopsis of the book ~

      The book is one of a series featuring the lead character of Diane Fallon. This is the 3rd book in the series, however you don't need to have read the other 2 to enjoy the characters or to have previous understanding of the interactions that occur.
      Diane is a Museum Director, Forensic Anthropologist, a Human Rights investigator, a caver and is often drawn into investigations as a result of her position whereby the local forensics laboratory is also part of the museum, and she is responsible for both!

      An avid caver, the story starts off with Diane Fallon in what was believed to be a previously unexplored area of a cave system. Whilst doing this, she finds herself almost falling through a hidden hole down into another previously unknown cavern below. Fortunately her caving partner is around and they manage to avoid any major injury. However, unexpectedly, they do find a mummified body in the newly exposed cavern.

      It becomes apparent fairly quickly this body is likely to be decades old, and Diane, in her position of a forensic archaeologist as well as having the forensics lab in the museum she now runs, takes the remains to try and establish just who this Caver Doe (and he became known) is, and how he might have died.

      She is also tasked with another set of bones, which are brought across from another caving system in the United Kingdom. These bones are involved in dispute of ownership, and the last thing Diane needs is someone claiming to be a distant relative hounding her for the results. Unfortunately for Diane, this is exactly what happens, and these bones further complicate what started out to be a normal investigation of Caver Doe.

      Added into the mix is the discovery of other bodies. One of an elderly woman in some woodland, and there also appears to have been a tragic diving accident, and the diving accident throws up even more confusing problems, not least a submerged car and yet another mystery! Are they related, or do they somehow connect to the other bones that are decades old? Just what happened to Caver Doe and why does someone now seem intent on stopping her investigation in anyway possible.

      Danger begins to lurk in unexpected places for Diane and those around her.

      ~ Thoughts on the book ~

      I first began reading Beverly Connor when I picked up the first of this series of books from the library. This book was one I have subsequently ordered off Ebay, and I wasn't disappointed in any way and felt it was as strong as ever.
      If you like Patricia Cornwall or Kathy Reich's, then Beverly Connor is not likely to disappoint since she fits this style extremely well.

      Beverly Connor does put in a nice balance of forensic detail, but doesn't overload the storyline with it. This means it gives enough for someone with an interest in this area, but without overwhelming the reading with technical detail and know how. It takes you along the route to see how things are joined together nicely.
      Because of her background, this is also woven with archaeology, anthropology, caving and even some geology. This gives us a slightly different angle to this area of criminal writing and what does make it so nicely different from the likes of Patricia Cornwall and Kathy Reich's.

      If there is one main criticism, it can be that we get to know something of a daughter of Diane's who was killed. We subsequently find out she was an adopted daughter and only 6 years old when she died. Now, while this might be mapping out a future book for us, to be honest I found the inclusion of this information in this particular book didn't really add much to the overall storyline and frankly I could have read and enjoyed the book just as much without it. It doesn't detract from the book overall, but it just feels as if it doesn't need to be there.

      I was also a little disappointed in the overall quality of the book editing. This isn't something a writer can necessarily do much about, but again I felt the book would have just benefited a little more if it had been slightly tighter. But I doubt the average reader would find this detracting and is just my personal preference.

      But the book is great and the main reason for this is Beverly Connor's ability to weave in multiple stories and secondary characters without losing the main threads. This means you are often kept guessing until late on in the book, and this is a great plus point. Nor do you lose interest part the way through because it has become too complicated and convoluted. Being so multifaceted is where this book (and the previous two before it) and Beverly Connor does do so wonderfully well.

      Diane Fallon is intelligent, and some might argue is super human taking on all she does, but I feel that Beverly Connor manages something that Patricia Cornwall particularly has failed dramatically in her recent books, and that is to still make her likeable to the reader! So you can forgive her seemingly superhuman abilities in all areas of her work and life because while it does seem far-fetched, it isn't completely unbelievable for someone like Diane to be as driven to work as she does.

      Because the writer is a woman, and the lead character is also female, this book might not be to everyone's taste, however I do think even some male readers of this genre can still enjoy this book. This is also something not all women writers achieve (most notably Nora Roberts comes to mind) and again it's indicative as to how good Beverly Connor's writing can be.

      The very last couple of pages bring in a shocking discovery and is superbly written by Beverly Connor.

      ~ Final thoughts and summary ~

      Beverly Connor manages to draw the reader in with skilful and interesting writing. Her best asset as a writer is she makes the characters likeable and believable, and her sub-plots while complicated are briskly written and maintain the desired effect of keeping the reader off balance so it isn't easy to try and work out who is doing what, and why it might be happening. Beverly Connor has avoided the worst pitfalls that Patricia Cornwall has made of late with her characterization, and this helps enormously.

      Because of the slight issues I've raised earlier in my review, and because it won't necessarily appeal to a wider audience, I will give this book 4 out of 5 stars.


      ~ Where you can buy and how much? ~

      It varies. I've seen it offered online for as little as 50 pence (although you do have postage costs on top). I would say expect to pay around £3-50 to £5-50/£6-00 inc. depending on where you buy it. I paid just over £3-00 for my copy (inc. postage) from Ebay.

      For some reason some of the online books show this title having a purplish colour scheme (as seen in the review picture here). However my paperback comes in a darkish green colour (which is also what is shown on the Amazon UK site). It does appear that there can be discrepancies between books covers in her book listings, so I would advise don't take the book cover colour as being indicative as to which book it is.

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