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Rack, Ruin and Murder - Ann Granger

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Hardcover: 320 pages / Publisher: Headline / Published: 9 Jun 2011

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      24.10.2012 17:33
      Very helpful



      Different mystery but an average read.

      ==Synopsis of the book:==

      Monty Bickerstaff is an usual man. He is now an old man and most would describe him as eccentric. On returning on his daily shopping trip for a bottle of whisky he is shocked to see a dead man on the sofa. He with reservations calls the Police and lets them into his house and life. For many years he has lived alone in a very run down manor house that his family have lived in for generations.

      The house is in a real state as his family money ran out years ago. Monty only lives in certain rooms in the down stairs of the property as he is unable to manage the stairs. He advises the Police that he does not recognise the dead man who has no identification on him. And much to his disgust they tell him as its a crime scene that temporarily he must move out. He has a niece who he doesn't like but she agrees to look after him till the matter is resolved,

      Inspector Jess Campbell and her team start the task of trying to solve the mystery. They are immediately surprised as they find one of the bedrooms without any mess or even dust and realise that someone has been using this room and very recently. Has this got something to do with the dead man and why has me been murdered in this old, run down place? Did Monty get confused or frightened by him and kill him and simply forget?

      ==My thoughts on this novel:==

      On balance I thought this was a very average crime thriller. There certainly were good aspects but these for me tended to be outweighed by the disappointing ones. I have read many of the Ann Granger novels and always enjoyed them but this failed to live up to the previous high standards the author has set.

      I found this novel on Amazon recently and decided I would purchase it with an Amazon voucher I still hadn't used. It was never a difficult decision as I really enjoyed this author series featuring Fran Varady and I was keen to try something else. Especially as I had not read anything for her in over two years, I thought it was time to reacquaint myself with her writings. As there is a real pleasure in her well thought out stories that while I sometimes feel are a little too gentle and unrealistic they always satisfy me as they are clever and well thought out.

      Ann Granger is a British author and was born in 1939. She has travelled through her work at various British Embassies. So far she was written 28 books all fictional and all within the murder /mystery arena. Her work I would say is similar in style to Ann Cleeves or Anne Perry. The book I am reviewing here is one of her latest offerings, having first been published in 2011.

      Once the book arrived I first checked out the summary of the story on the back cover. This I found very interesting as I selected this book simply on my opinion of the author. It was two good size paragraphs and told how old Monty had discovered the dead man lying on his sofa, when he came in from the shops. I liked the sound of it and I wondered what the investigating Officers Campbell and Carter would be like as they were briefly mentioned too.

      As soon as I started reading I found myself immediately into the story and wanting to know all about Monty and his bizarre lifestyle. In truth I think my favourite part of the story was when it was just about him, he was such a fascinating character. For me the whole book could and should have followed him as he tried to solve a mystery, but sadly it wasn't and they have this thing called experts or the Police who solve them instead!!

      I found the story as a result very easy to initially like. For me there is a gentleness about this authors work, she sets the scene well, but I always feel she lacks the harshness and the toughness of modern life. Despite this I found the story flowed nicely and I found it quite and easy and short read. It was my first experience of Inspector Jess Campbell and Superintendent Ian Carter and on the whole I thought they were poor. All the Detectives under there charge seemed to not be told what to do they just did it naturally. I found this a bit hard to swallow and believe, because surely if they did some would have the same idea and interview the same suspect? Those in command for me did not manage their teams and I was amazed a conclusion was ever reached.

      I think the basic problem was I found the support characters far more interesting than the lead characters. As a result I preferred the story when it centred around these and switched off when the lead characters where involved. That said the story did flow and I did enjoy the way it developed. Yes for me it was too short and given some of the excellent concepts the author introduced I would have liked a more in-depth story which could have had many more twists and turns within it.

      As it was it was a good well thought out story, which at times surprised and impressed me. With a conclusion that I did not find exciting as such more baffling. It just seemed to be a bit unlikely and certainly did not convince me that was the correct solution. Had it been longer and better planned and thought through it may have done. Because even at the very end there was a clever twist that I certainly had not expected and given where it happened I just felt it was wasted and the author had failed to use it to there advantage.

      The two leading characters I thought were quite ordinary. This in a sense is not a surprise as it often takes a book or two for me to understand and like one. To be honest I didn't realise for well over half the book who Carter was as he just seemed to play a very minor role, whereas Inspector Campbell was clearly visible and involved in a lot of the investigation. For me there was nothing that made these two characters stand out, I didn't feel I knew them and I didn't feel I understand them either.

      In contrast I felt the author created some wonderful support characters. Maybe part of my problem was that these were good they took the gloss of the supposed lead characters. I thought Monty was a wonderful creation, but not only him some other distant members of his family were excellent too. For me you could certainly write an entertaining story about the Bickerstaffe family as they were eccentric and funny at the same time.

      What I can't fault the author is the mystery she creates all around her story. And by bringing in a second mystery into the story the reader always had something to think and wonder about. As a simple murder revealed numerous possibilities and possible motives none of which seemed linked to the mysterious dead man or the property in which he was found.


      I am certainly in two minds as to whether I should recommend this book or not, which I think makes me undecided. On the positive side it was an interesting story, that was well written with some good support characters. However on the negative side it needed to be longer, it leads characters were poor and the conclusion did not quite add up and make me believe in it.

      ==Other information:==

      Paperback version:
      Price 5.02 New at Amazon
      Publisher: Headline
      ISBN-10: 0755349113
      ISBN-13: 978-0755349111
      Year first Published: 2011

      Thanks for reading my review

      This review is published under my user name on Ciao and Dooyoo

      © CPTDANIELS October 2012.


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