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Recently I have been struggling with my reading. Not sure if it's me or the books I have been reading but it been taking me up to a week to read one. So I did the unthinkable I went a whole week without one to give myself a break. It was really strange but I found I was really looking forward to my next book, which turned out to be this one.
==About the author:==
Rhys Bowen is a pseudonym used by Janet Quin-Harkin. She is probably best known for her books for children and teenagers that number over 100. However she has also been very successful with her mystery novels. Thus far she has written 24 within this arena of which she has won and been nominated for a variety of writing awards.
==Synopsis of the book:==
Constable Evan Evans finds himself one of the most unpopular people in the North Welsh town of Linfair. The local farming population are fearful that their sheep will have to be slaughtered as a result of the spreading of foot-and-mouth. They expect Evans to be supporting them but he is torn between loyalty to them and his duty. And he has to admit that he cannot stop the Ministry of Agriculture officials carrying out their horrible task.
So he decides to take some holiday owing to him, as this will give him and his fiancée Bronwen the opportunity to return to Swansea and spend some time with his mother and her parents. As neither parties have met the son/daughter's intended. Both feel very nervous as they undertake the journey hoping that their partner will be expectable to them.
However when they arrive at Evan's mothers house they discover the man who shot is father four ago has been allowed out and has been accused of another murder. Evan is still finding it hard to except that this young man Tony Mancini only served four years in a young persons institution after killing his father also a Policeman in cold blood. Evan finds himself understandably interested in what happened especially as Mancini denies raping and killing a wealthy young lady. He decides to meet the man he last saw four years ago in prison before his trial to try and understand why he kills people.
==My thoughts on the novel:==
Having not read a thing for a whole week I was very keen to find a book I would enjoy. So I selected a Detective story and I am really glad to say I choose well as this was a very good piece of fiction and one I enjoyed all the way through. It was well written, interesting and the story I found gripping. With many good twists and turns that I neither expected but enjoyed.
I suppose for my comeback read it was a bit of a gamble selecting an author I had never heard of before. As I do very often struggle with a new writers style until I have got used to it. This book is part of a series of ten stories featuring the exploits of Constable Evans with this one being the seventh having been written in 2003. What I found impressive for my first read was that I did not feel I had missed anything by selecting this one rather than the first in the series. As quite often in this type of Detective stories they refer back to what has happened previously and when you haven't read them it can be annoying.
Several years ago I used to like reading the Hamish MacBeth stories and on the cover of the book you are advised that if you like these you will like this. So I check out the summary on the inside cover, this was a good length and for me set the scene and drew me in immediately. I liked the idea of Evan returning home to try and understand why this young tearaway firstly killed his father and now a local young lady. Maybe the summary gave away a little too much as the author gives more away than I did in my summary above of it.
The book began in an unusual by ultimately helpful way. It had a page full of Welsh words with their definitions. This immediately had me worried as I had realised this was a novel based in Wales but I was not sure if I would enjoy it if there were going to be all these Welsh words and I needed to keep referring back to this page. However having read the book I need not have worried, as they were only very occasional and they did not effect my enjoyment of the story.
Although when I read the first three chapters I was still unsure if I would enjoy this story. The reason was my lack of knowledge and experience of what life is like in North Wales. I found it difficult to relate to despite it being well written with some excellent descriptions of the scenery, I was not convinced I could understand what it is like to live in a small close-knit community like the one that was being described. I also found this introduction a little slow and I felt like I was waiting for something to happen.
I'm glad to say this started to change when Evan and Bronwen started on their adventure South to Swansea. I found very quickly able to relate to their situation of being worried about what their future in-laws would think of them. As soon as they arrived at Evan's mothers they where told of the new murder and that brought up a whole lot of emotions that he and his mother had been trying to recover from. I found this situation intriguing especially when they went to Court to see if bail was going to be allowed.
And while I could understand that Ewan wanted to help convict this man who had served only four years for his father's murder, I did struggle to understand why he wanted to know the truth of what happened to the girl. I would have thought once he knew the Police felt they had enough to get a life sentence against him he would leave it not wanting to be upset and more by it and raking up more memories of his father.
I did find this concept interesting and I enjoyed the way the story developed in ways I had not considered. There was always something happening and I found the way both the story was written and how Constable Evans investigated the crime and being back in his former home town as fascinating. I thought the author had put a lot of thought in him returning and some of the people from his past that he met. One concept that author used was very clever and turned out to be quite amusing the result that was revealed towards the end of the story.
What I found particularly appealing about this story was that fact I had no idea who the guilty party was. Too often I find the author gives too many clues away and you can work out the answers even if you can't work out why. But in this story I was always one step behind Constable Evans in his investigation and impressed throughout with the way the author told her fascinating story.
The story increased in pace as it developed and I found the concluding chapters well thought out and exciting. Even in this section there where surprises and I really thought the author finished of the story cleverly. Yes I would have liked an epilogue but when you are dealing with characters such as Evan and Bronwen that will appear in the next book in the series it is not as important to know what they did next as it will be in the next book.
Constable Evans was unsurprisingly the main character in the story. I found him to be a very well thought out and unusual lead character. He was easy to relate to and I felt a lot of sympathy for him because of what he had gone through. He was also very vulnerable and I liked the way he dealt with his concerns and worries. I felt in writing this story the author really understand her character and it really came through in the descriptions of what he did and felt.
However I thought he was superbly supported by his fiancée Bronwen. I really enjoyed the interaction between these two lead characters. What really impressed me was how involved in the story she was and how there was far more to this story than just the investigation. I liked the way both central characters were concerned about their parents and what they would think of the partner.
The novels length was comparatively short at 272 pages long. I thought this was the correct length to tell a very fascinating story and it was well split up into manageable chapters at around nine pages each. I will definitely be looking to try another one of this series as I found it an excellent story.
I thought this was a wonderful Detective story. It was a really unusual story, which was told with sympathy and a lot of understanding for the characters emotions. With two very good and strong lead characters with excellent personalities. The only negative I felt about the book was it was a little slow going at first but when the actual investigation began for me all that changed and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Year of Publication: 2003
About the author: www.rhysbowen.com
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
© CPT DANIELS November 2011.