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==About the author:==
Patricia Hall is a British author having been born in 1957 and brought up in Yorkshire. Her real name is Maureen O'Connor and she has already written 18 novels. With the vast majority of these being crime stories in the Thackeray and Ackroyd series.
==Synopsis of the story:==
DCI Michael Thackeray is called in when a young mother fails to return home to her thuggish husband. Two days later her car is discovered on a dirt track by the forest. Upon investigation the track has many tyre tracks but the woman seems to have disappeared. Thackeray believes the woman Karen Bastable has simply run off with another man.
Meanwhile his own girlfriend Laura Ackroyd is very nervously contemplating telling him that she is pregnant. Their relationship has not been great lately and she is not sure how he will react to this unexpected and unplanned development. She is a journalist and currently working on getting some background on Sir David Murgatroyd. Who with government support is taking over and injecting money into Bradfield's Comprehensive Schools and planning to run them as Christian affairs.
The mutilated body of Karen is found in the forest a few days later. Although her husband is the primary suspect, Thackeray discovers the night she went missing she was participating in a 'dogging event'. Because of the nature of this group he finds secrecy and only by staging an imaginary event does he found out who is part of this group and what happened to Karen on that fateful night.
==My thoughts on this novel:==
I thought this was a first class crime thriller. What I particularly enjoyed was the clever way the author was able to tell two contrasting stories so well involving the characters Ackroyd and Thackeray. The stories while separate initially are told very effectively while they successfully run parallel to each other. So that if for any reason you do not like one story you can always try the other one, although I found them both most enjoyable.
This is not my first experience of Patricia Hall's work. Recently I read 'Death in a far Country', which I also thought was excellent and prompted me to want to read this one. I was conscious because I have very often been disappointed when going back to an author whose work I really enjoyed second time around. I'm glad to say this novel only published last year did not disappoint me in any way, shape or form.
I have found in previous books that when an author tries to tell two stories this can often lead to a real problem remembering exactly what is happening in each story and which characters are connected with which one. I certainly did not have that problem this time as they were very distinct, different and excellently written.
What initially drew me to this particular book, because there were several written by this author available, was the novels title. I really liked the sound from this and I thought incorrectly this would be involving Witchcraft and spooky goings on. Although I was completely wrong about this I do not regret reading this book, as it was a real pleasure to enjoy.
Although I was most surprised that on the front cover they spelt the name Thackeray wrong telling us it was 'A Thackery and Ackroyd Mystery'. Despite this I checked out the summary on the inside cover. To my delight it was a very good length and contained great detail that got me really interested in it. That plus the knowledge it featured Thackeray and Ackroyd made my decision to get this book easy.
Again with this book something that annoyed me but I think it has more to do with the Publisher rather than the author is on the back cover praise for the author. I do not see how general praise for the author helps a buyer decide if they want to purchase and read this novel. I think it is very misleading and done completely on purpose. It would be more relevant to get positive feedback about this book not others.
What I have found with these two stories is the quality of them both is astounding high. Some authors struggle to tell one good, crisp exciting story, this author tells two that really hold the readers imagination in a spell binding way. They were both told superbly and went the majority of times in directions I was not expecting.
I discovered I immediately got into this books story. It began with a short section about Karen and why she was doing her nocturnal activities. I felt sympathy for her and although I struggled with the concept of sex in public with strangers, she was a character I liked and wanted to know more about. Involved in a concept I knew nothing about.
Then story then moved on to one of the lead characters Laura. It talked a little bit about her background and her thoughts on her new assignment with the Bradfield Gazette digging into the past of Sir David Murgatroyd the very private businessman who was the money behind taking over and improving the local schools. I found this introduction into her and her fellow star DCI Thackeray very useful.
This followed directly afterwards and updated or introduced him to the reader. I thought this was written at exactly the right level and had me intrigued about the new cases plus their unusual personal life. Initially Thackeray was not involved in Karen's disappearance it was uniform who dealt with it.
While Ackroyd's story started to develop with Laura investigating those in favour and those against the schools takeover. The constant theme the two stars shared was the news that Laura was expecting a baby and how they had very contrasting views on this. There personal life was fascinating, and they shared a lot of history and this was muddying the waters.
As Thackeray was sure that he did not want to be a father again after his son from a previous relationship had died. The author very carefully dealt with the emotions these two were feeling and both of their fears that this issue could finally split them up. I did find this although well written quite annoying, only because whenever Thackeray has a personal problem he runs away from it and cannot talk about it or is that what us men do?
It was frustrating have the two main characters hardly talking to eachother. As it would certainly have helped the murder enquiry if normal service had resumed. But also it allowed the two stories to take their own individual courses for much longer. I liked the way they developed and only over time did the links between them increase. And also the ramifications of what they were both working on went from local to national interests.
The pace of both stories flowed really well, with a conclusion that I was not really expecting. My only criticism was the story built up a lot of mystery and suspense but the solution was found too quickly thus killing all the good work. I would have preferred a longer more spun out ending to this terrific story as I thought it let the book down and seemed to me a little rushed. Turning for me what was an excellent story into just a very good one.
Apart from the two first class stories, it was the depth of the characters I really enjoyed. Usually you find the support characters are quite weak, as the author has not put into enough thought and imagination behind them. In this novel they were all excellent however, with good different personalities that helped you remember them and which story they were part of.
Laura Ackroyd is the character I enjoyed reading about the most. Being one of the two stars she always played a pivotal role in the story. I enjoyed her perspective on how she dealt with all new developments in her life both public and private. A very engaging character who I found easy to like and easy to relate to at the same time. I thought the author had it spot on the way what was happening in her personal life was affecting her ability to do her job.
DCI Michael Thackeray her co-star by contrast I found quite frustrating. Yes he was a very good Policeman and worked really well with his team, his personality was good and I liked the way he was described in his actions. What annoyed me about him was the way this intelligent man could only consider his own feelings when he discovered his girlfriend was pregnant. He seemed unable to deal with personal problems and I found this unlikely.
One concept worries me about future novels featuring these two contrasting characters. This is the second book I have read and in both these characters start their work and somewhere along the line the stories merge. If this happens in every story then the reader will be expecting this and so ruin the storyline as you are waiting and expecting it to happen.
I found this a very easy, comfortable book to read. What I found was I was embroiled into the two stories, because the story was interesting and so well written. The book took me less than two days to read as I really didn't want to put it down once I had started it.
For me the length of the story was a little shorter than it should have been. The author should have extended the final few chapters to maximise the suspense and make it more exciting. And although their was no epilogue I felt with this story it did not warrant it, I was quite happy to decide for myself what happened to all the characters next.
This was a first class thriller. I really enjoyed it and the two very different stories within it. The characters were superb and I really enjoyed the way the author incorporated the main characters personal problems into the story. The only thing that disappointed me was I felt the ending of the story was a little rushed and instead of being and excellent read it changed it to only a very good one.
Hardback price: £13.99
Publisher: Allison & Bailey Ltd
About the author: www.patriciahall.co.uk
@CPTDANIELS May 2010