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I was looking while wondering round the local charity shop for a crime thriller that I would enjoy and find stimulating. After a while I found this book and I was sure I would be onto a winner. As I have read a few of the Chief Inspector Woodend series from this author and always enjoyed them.
==About the author:==
There is no such person as Sally Spencer, she is a pseudonym used by Alan Rustage. He grew up in the North of England where this series of books are set. He has written seven under his own name in the Inspector Blackstone series. A further three under another pseudonym James Garcia Woods and an amazing 28 as Sally Spencer, of which 20 are in the Chief Inspector Woodend series.
==Synopsis of the book:==
It is set in Lancashire in the mid 1960's, where a 13-year-old girl Angela Jackson disappears. This brings back painfully memories to DCI Woodend who many years previously promised a Grandfather in a similar situation they would get her back but they failed. Now he is desperate for history not to repeat itself, especially as a psychologist Dr Stevenson advises him the girl will be tortured and then killed.
There seems little evidence but a wallet is recovered from near the scene in the park belonging to Solicitor Edgar Brunton. Upon investigation he is found to have an alibi for the time the girl is snatched but Woodend thinks he is the his man. Especially as the wallet still has both the man's cash and credit cards in it when recovered. How can it be stolen like he claims it is?
DCI Woodend's team also bring in and interview all known sex offenders but again this draws a blank. While the local area lands and premises is also desperately searched. Woodend is convinced Brunton is guilty but while interviewing him a call comes through as a girl's body is discovered on some wasteland near the park. Has he got it wrong again?
==My thoughts on the book:==
For me this was a superb and thought provoking Crime thriller. I have read so many of these types of books in the past and reviewed a lot of them too, but this must be one of my favourites. I had no idea what was going to happen after about halfway through the book, with many twists and dramatic turns. It was only in the final few pages did I know and understand the truth and even then I was surprised by it.
The book is one of the latest DCI Woodend novels at a time when Charlie is thinking towards retirement from the force, but he still has the desire and determination to make amends for what happened early in his career. Although I don't think it matters too much whether you have read the earlier books in this series, you do get a better understanding of the characters in his team if you have and what had happened to them previously.
I had read the earlier books so I basically knew the characters and how they interact with each other. But because I missed about six in the middle I can now see a lot has happened in their lives. I suppose in retrospect that was a mistake but it shows you can pick for example this one up not having read any of these books and enjoy the experience.
Although in many ways these books are outdated as they are set in the 1960's, I find it a refreshing change that the Police have to go about there work the hard way. To catch a criminal they need evidence not DNA samples and some of the ways they go about getting it in today's world wouldn't be acceptable or permissible. In some ways that does add to the excitement of the book the bending of the rules in order to achieve what they see to be the correct solution.
When I picked up this novel I knew I must purchase it, as I have enjoyed all the previous ones I have read. The summary on the inside cover of the book is for a pleasant change a decent length and provides enough detail about the plot and the characters involved to wet my appetite for reading it as soon as I can.
For my brief outline above it may seem that I have told quite a lot of the story, but I really haven't. This is only part of the story and it is fascinating how the author very cleverly and intelligently brings it all together. Demonstrating as he does how luck and sound Police work can change during the course of an investigation.
It was in many ways a difficult and emotive subject to write about and particularly well done when you consider the author was also writing from not only the Police perspective but also the abductor too. Which at times was horrible and disturbing but is was written in a believable and frank way.
I found the storyline to this book riveting, it was so different to what I was expecting and not by any means your classic investigation. It went in a direction I never expected and as a result I really enjoyed the unexpected and was never sure what exactly would happen next.
Having read several of these series of books, I suppose I had a level of expectation, but for me this book exceeded them. It could be separated into two parts and it showed a very humane side of the investigating officer and his team and demonstrated how they deal with success and failure both in their work and their personal lives.
The story was so good for me because it was quite different from what I was used to. It was sensitively handled and it was the shift in direction from the expected result that made it so interesting for me. It was always well written and I found I had read it in less than two days.
The lead character in the series is DCI Woodend and like his name suggests his Policing skills in my view are a bit wooden and outdated. He is not a particularly scintillating character but he makes up for that with his attitude to finding the truth and the way he will do anything including breaking the rules to achieve this end.
For me he is never to star of the novels or the one I am interested in it is his support team of Sergeant Monika Paniatowski and Bob Rutter. These characters are well developed and always have very good, deep personal storylines involving them. As a result I warm to them and feel I can relate to them and I always want to know what has and will happen to them in the past and the future.
The author clearly has a clear plan for all these characters not only for the book but also for the duration of the series both for work and their personal lives. For me having missed a few of the books in between the early ones and this one I am fascinated by what transpired. It makes me want to go back and actually see these events happen and see how they dealt with them at the time.
The book is a good mystery as the author only gives so much away, so that you never know whom the guilty party is, you just get the odd clue along the way. I was very impressed by the way the author seemed to have considered every aspect of an investigation with excellent use of the element of surprise.
On the front cover on the book there is a quote 'As finely plotted as Minette Walters and Jo Bannister' from the Library Journal on Sins of the Fathers. I disagree with this I would say this was better and I am a bit fan of Jo Bannister's work.
This book followed the standard format of all the DCI Woodend series by that I mean it's length was comparatively short, but within that time an intriguing story unfolded, that was fast paced and very refreshing.
I totally recommend this as a superb piece of crime writing fiction. The story was so well written and very unexpected totally different from previous novels in this series and other authors I have read. That is probably why I enjoyed it so much and found it intriguing. I will certainly be looking to read another Sally Spencer book in the near future as this for me was fabulous.
Publisher: Severn House
About the author: www.sallyspencer.com
Thank you for reading my review.
This review is written on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my name.
CPTDANIELS May 2009