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==Synopsis of the book:==
The year in 1973 and in Whitebridge Fred Howerd a dying man wants to see his Priest before he passes on. He has just been released from prison so that he may die at home having served 22 years for the rape and murder of 13 year old Lilly Dawson. His reason for wanting to see the Priest is to clear his conscious and admit he lied and that he did not kill the girl he admitted to killing all those years ago. The Priest then goes to the Police station and advises them that there has been a miscarriage of justice. The Chief Constable decides there must be an investigation of what happened and asks DCI Paniatowski and senior officer from Scotland Yard to undertake this task.
Monika Paniatowski is very concerned by this because it was one of the first cases her old boss Chief Inspector Charlie Woodend dealt with. This was when he had just been promoted and he was sent up from London to try and solve this horrific case after the local force had made little impression on it and the public where calling for some kind of resolution. Monika must now try and uncover the truth by re-interviewing all those concerned including her old boss now retired and living in Spain to find the truth.
==My thoughts on this novel:==
I thought this was a very good Detective thriller. It was very cleverly thought out and although I had my own theory on what happened I'm pleased to say I was wrong and the author was always one step ahead of me. I found this a very easy book to get into and once in I really wanted to know the answers as it seemed so cut and dried that Charlie Woodend had made a big mistake. It certainly was a book that made me think and consider all the possibilities the story throw up.
Admittedly I am a good fan of this author's work. Sally Spencer has written 35 novels so far. Twenty of these have been in the Inspector Woodend series. This is a series I particularly enjoyed what was set in Lancashire in the 1960's and very early 1970's. In this series the author introduced DCI Paniatowski as Wood end's Sergeant. Since then she has taken over from him and this is the third of four stories focusing on life after Woodend and Paniatowski's investigations. The story was first published in 2010.
As soon as I discovered about this Detective story I knew I would have to purchase it. And whereas I was intrigued by the title I was very disappointed by the four compliments by various sources on the front and back covers of the book. Don't get me wrong I do like to read good things about the novel I am about to read. But all these compliments where about the previous book 'The Ring of Death' and they have no value as far as I am concerned because they tell you nothing about the one you are about to try.
However in contrast the summary on the inside cover really aroused my curiosity and made me want to read it. It was a fair size and it set the scene well advising of this death bed confession of innocence. I really liked the concept of one of Woodend's early cases being re-investigated by the lady who he trained and developed and who was now the boss. As it meant his reputation was on the line and she was keen to find the truth in the hope that it did not destroy him.
The story began with an excellent prologue. This set the scene to the story well and I liked this confession even if it was unusual in the sense it was one of innocence. It was a good eight pages long and it already had me hooked as I wondered how Woodend could have made such a mistake. It also confused me and I wondered why this dying confessed to a crime he now claimed he had never committed.
I thought the story had a really good feel about it and I liked the way it flitted effortlessly from DCI Paniatowski's present day investigation to Inspector Woodend's 22 years earlier. This was clearly signposted and there was even a change to type style so you could not get confused. For a fan of Woodend and the way he conducted an investigation it was a lovely reminder to his no nonsense approach to finding the truth and a trip down memory lane.
Part of the magic of the Inspector Woodend series was it was a team that worked getting a solution to the crime. And where as in this series you still have the various team members each undertaking there own to find the solution I feel the chemistry within the team isn't as good. I used to love the interaction between them but in this series with Paniatowski it seems weaker and not so lively. I also think the author has cut back on the main characters personal lives away from the investigation and this I used to really enjoy in the Woodend series and I feel they focus far more on the crime than the characters trying to solve it and this for me is disappointing.
The story was wonderfully told and it was a real classic style Detective investigation. I really liked the way what Monika was doing could ruin Charlie's reputation and this she wanted to avoid at all costs but she needed to get the truth. I felt the story always had a good pace about it and it quickened as deadlines approached and answers where needed. With a conclusion that impressed and surprised me, but when skilfully explained made total sense. There is even room at the end for a short three page epilogue, which although nice for tidying up a few personal issues for me added nothing to the story and so was not required.
DCI Monika Paniatowski is the main character in these stories and in my opinion an excellent one. This is the 1970's and she has risen to an unheard of rank for a woman. This makes her the target to be shot down by the jealous male colleagues. She is a woman in a man's world and she is keen to make a difference and prove she is good at her job. I find her very easy to like and understand with values that most would admire and like to subscribe too. I like the fact she is no-bodies fool and her conversations with her junior officers are great because they all respect each other and while they don't always agree they work together and discuss there differences.
The books length is on the short side but because the author focuses on the investigation it works well for me. With enough mystery to keep the reader on their toes all the way through it. I particularly enjoy the detail the author uses to describe both the scene and the characters within it. As a result I often feel I am with DCI Paniatowski on the investigation experiencing all the highs and lows within it.
Although for me not the best novel in the current series I still really enjoy a first class Detective story. While the investigation had the real bonus of seeing Charlie Woodend in action again, appealing to fans of the previous series and fans of Monika Paniatowski as she updated the investigation with one of her own. The only thing the story lacked for me was learning more about the key characters personal lives, which allows the reader a break from the investigation and an opportunity to gel and understand the key characters more.
Publisher: Severn House
More about the author: www.sallyspencer.com
Year first published: 2010
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
© CPTDANIELS July 2012.