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I found this book through the Internet several weeks ago. Having read the description and summary I decided it was something I would enjoy. As it was not in a sale I decided to check out my High Street, where I managed to purchase it at half price the listed retail price which was a real bonus.
==About the author:==
Peter Turnbull is a very successful British author. He specialises in Crime and Mystery novels. With these being favourabably compared to authors such as John Harvey and Peter Robinson. So far he has written 49 books with his Hennessey and Yellich series of Detective stories being the most well known.
==Synopsis of the book:==
When a skeleton is discovered well buried in Epping Forest DS Harry Vicary and DI Archibald Drew are called in to investigate. It was only by pre chance that it was found at all because as well as being six feet down, a couple of feet either way and it would never have been found.
It has clearly been in the ground now used by caravans a long time and upon analysis it is discovered it has been in the ground between 25 and 30 years. They also discover it is male and about 26 years old and start to look at the missing persons file. Quickly they discover the man identity is none other than a Policeman Detective Constable James Coventry. While the pathologist confirms he was drowned.
With little in the way of evidence the Detectives first go and break the news to his parents and see what information they can share about the circumstances of his disappearance. They advise them he was working undercover in an operation that was making him very concerned but they did not know why. Now with more details of friends and a girlfriend they need to piece together what really happened to this popular Police officer all those years ago.
==My thoughts on the novel:==
I found this a thoroughly absorbing and well-written book. The story was first class and although the novel was comparatively short it was very action packed and always exciting. I found in no time at all I had completed the book and felt I had experienced a really well thought out piece of fiction.
This admittedly is not my first experience of this author's work. Having previously read two other thrillers that I also enjoyed, so I had a good idea what to expect. Although I have to say this is definitely the best for me. Maybe it's an author maturing and getting better with age, as this is his latest book and published in late 2009.
I can certainly see parallels in style and the way the story develops with Peter Robinson's books. So I suppose it is no surprise I like this author as I do Robinson. What I find particularly appealing about this novel is the direction it took, which totally surprised and impressed me. And even given they were trying to solve a murder from 27 years before it still felt fresh and thrilling.
Having recently enjoyed this author's work and several other crime writers I looked on the Internet for something new. This seemed for me the best of the bunch although it was only available on Hardback and at £18.99!! I don't think I have ever paid that much for a book and I wasn't about to now, luckily I managed to find it at half price so I didn't feel so guilty about it.
What appealed to me initially were two features from the cover of the book. The first being the head of a skeleton which in a macabre way made me intrigued and I wanted to know more about it. Secondly, it was the title of the novel itself. I like a title that is not obvious and one that makes you think, this definitely did that for me and I curious to know what was meant by it.
Although I was not so impressed when I flipped the book over and read the compliments about the author's work from journalists. All very nice but please tell me the value these have when they are not about the book you are about to read? It is a pet hate of mine, I would prefer it at the end of the story and then maybe it might encourage me to read another one especially if there was a summary of it there too.
Trying not to let my annoyance cloud my judgement I read the summary of the story. It was two and a half paragraphs long arguably a little short in depth but it more than made up for it in its quality. The concept appealed to me and I thought it sounded great to go back into the past to discover the truth, especially as it was a Police killing.
The story for me had an unusual start to it as it initially followed a character that we were told little about as he was walking in Epping Forest after the body had just been discovered. You wondered what relevance he had to the story as it was clear he must have some influence in the story to come otherwise why use him as the introduction and just give a couple of minor clues about his identity.
From there the story started to follow the key Detectives as they started to try and find out who the dead man was and find out what he was doing that got him killed. I liked the idea of because the files where missing that they had to go afresh into the investigation, interviewing friends and family to try and piece together what really happened.
The story was extremely well thought out and I really enjoyed the way it both developed and got bigger and bigger. With much more important and far-reaching consequences, that I never considered when the story began. The author clearly had a fantastic idea as he slowly and cleverly revealed more aspects of what was happening 27 years before.
A feature that always appeals to me, are short but informative paragraphs. In this story the author did not just follow the two Detectives and give their views, thoughts and opinions but also all the other main characters within it. I thought this worked really well as you never had the capacity to get bored as after a page or two the story followed someone else, so that you felt you knew exactly what was happening to all the characters.
What also impressed me with this story was some of the unexpected twists it took. A few I could see coming but some just shocked me, in truth one or two of them would have been improved if they had been expanded upon. At no time did I feel with confidence that this case would be solved, not because the Detectives were not good but because I always felt this author would surprise me with one final twist.
Although I really enjoyed the build up to the conclusion, it also left me slightly cold. You have to read the book to find out why!! It was unusual like much of what had already preceded it.
I suppose because of this quite unusual style of focusing on many characters, I did not feel quite the warm relationship with the two Detectives. Although I did like the way the author introduced aspects of their interesting private lives that made the characters Drew and Vicary more human and somehow more vulnerable. I enjoyed their strong working relationship and while they didn't seem to share much humour their understanding of eachother was impressive.
The other characters I generally enjoyed they were all well thought out and diverse so that you're remembered who was who. Personally I would have liked a little more depth and details so that I could have understood their motivations more clearly. One or two I wondered why they were included as they only played a minor role and there inclusion if anything complicated matters, but maybe that was the author's plan.
I enjoyed the suspense the novel was thick in. I think the author did this superbly by creating a story that became bigger than you first imagined with the truth hidden not only by time but characters that needed to be found. The result of this was I was always engrossed in the story and I needed to know what the answers were and who was responsible.
The pace of the book was quick throughout. I think you getting these short paragraphs on each scene so that you could see what was happening simultaneously to other characters helped it. This also helped me feel the story was developing and moving on towards a conclusion.
For me the length of the story was just a little too short. Yes it told a fantastic and very rich story, but at times too I felt I needed a little more depth behind the characters. Plus I would have preferred a slightly longer conclusion, as I need to digest exactly everything that had happened. And although it had no prologue or epilogue I found I didn't really miss them on this occasion.
For me this was a first class crime thriller and certainly the best I have read from him so far. I thought the concept and the way the story unfolded was superb, with short paragraphs allowing the author to change scenes and characters practically at will. My only real complaint was I did not feel I really understood or knew the lead Detectives perhaps as much as I would have liked.
Price: £18.99 (Hardback)
Publisher: Severn House
Year: November 2009
About the author: www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/t/peter-turnbull
Thank you for reading my review and a very happy New Year to you all.
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
@CPTDANIELS January 2011