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Patricia Hall's 10th mystery set in the Yorkshire town of Bradfield, and the 8th to feature investigative journalist Laura Ackroyd and Inspector Michael Thackeray. I love this series, and once devoured 6 of them in a few weeks - while each mystery stands alone, there's a development of character and themes from one book to the next, and Hall cleverly shows the impact of previous episodes in the series without spoilers in relation to previous mysteries.
The story opens with the shooting of a 13 year old outside an abortion clinic. A local anti-abortion group has invited an American campaigner to town. Their views on and reactions to events strain the personal relationship between investigative journalist Laura and her detective boyfriend, not for the first time but will it be the last? I thought this was very well handled. This relationship is an important part of many of the books, but it is used both to develop the mystery plots and to portray something interesting, not slushy - a really intellectually challenging yet loving relationship. There are often multiple conflicts between journalistic ethics, police investigation and the protagonists' different and strongly held principles.
The cast includes several other recurring series characters. Thackeray's sergeant, Kevin Mower, is still very depressed about a previous tragedy (see Death on Arrival, #8 in the series) and drowning his sorrows in alcohol, to the point where his career is at stake. Laura's lifelong socialist grandmother Joyce is still joining the counter-demonstrations outside meetings organised by the anti-abortion crowd.
The mystery storyline is interestingly developed and suitably mystifying but I didn't think it was the best in the series in this sense, and this lowers my rating.
But I'm very much looking forward to the next book, as Deep Freeze has left me anxious about Kevin and keen to see what happens with the others, they're that real to me.
The May Anderson Hospital is the most controversial establishment in Bradfield. One of the few local clinics to offer abortions, it provokes strong reactions in the community. But when a young girl is gunned down as she walks out of the clinic, almost everyone is outraged. Who could do such a thing? Reporter Laura Ackroyd and her policeman boyfriend, DCI Michael Thackeray, are both soon immersed in the case. It quickly becomes clear that the maverick surgeon who runs the abortion unit, is not a popular man. - could the bullet have been intended for him? Is it something to do with the flamboyant American evangelist who has just swung into town with his rather intimidating entourage? Ackroyd and Thackeray are convinced that there is more to the case than meets the eye. And with very different attitudes towards the subject of abortion, it is not long before the issues raised threaten to destroy their own relationship.