“ Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Susan Kelly / Hardcover / 288 Pages / Book is published 2000-08-04 by Allison & Busby „
I discovered this novel on a visit to my local Car Boot sale the other week. It was one of those novels I couldn't resist; a crime novel for just 25p that I think is amazing. At this price I thought even if I didn't like the book I could always give it to the charity shop as it was still in excellent condition, but I hoped I would enjoy it anyway.
==About the author:==
Susan Kelly was born in 1955 and brought up near Oxford. After a long career in Computer Programming, she turned her attention to writing as a career. So far she has written 12 novels, with this one being part of the Gregory Summers mysteries and the first in the series written in 2000.
==A synopsis of the novel:==
The longest day of the year is approaching and in the usually sleepy town of Newberry two very different 'tribes' have come to celebrate it. On the one hand you have the Romanies who are using this opportunity to sell to the local people at their fairs. While on the other you have the New Age Travellers planning to celebrate dawn with their own special festival. These two groups do not see eye to eye with eachother while the locals don't see eye to eye with either of them, but are still happy to attend their fairs.
Emotions really start to boil over when a six-year-old girl goes missing. Her mother reports it after discovering her window open and the girl nowhere to be seen as she was preparing for bed. The pair had that day enjoyed the fair and the girl was interested in the life these people led and asked many questions about them. However within hours her body is discovered by the canal and there is evidence there has been a struggle.
Superintendent Gregory Summers now needs to find the killer before there is all out war in the town as the local people look for a scapegoat for this hideous crime. He must piece together the clues before the media and town's people turn on him as well as tempers boil over on the green.
==My thoughts on the book:==
I found this an absorbing and thoroughly enjoyable crime thriller. I think the main reason for this was until the very end I did not have a clue who was responsible for the crime. This is unusual for me and a very welcome bonus as this cleverly written story had me totally baffled.
This is the second novel I have read by this intelligent and creative writer. The first being 'Killing the Fatted Calf' which I thought was very good overall. That was one of the reasons that prompted me to read this one and see how it compared with it. On reflection I would actually see this one was better, which says a lot about it.
That in itself is unusual, as I have always found if I enjoyed an author's first book I tend to find the second disappointing. I think this is because by the second, I am getting used to the style and characters within the story, so it isn't as new or fresh to me and I think many author's struggle to emulate the success of the first one you read from them.
What immediately caught my attention about this book was visual. By this I mean the picture on the cover and the title of the book. The picture displayed a beautifully decorated caravan, while the title conjured up for me interesting images of the unusual lifestyle traveller's lead, who have very different rules from you or I.
Especially as I know so little about these people, for me there is always a sense of mystery and romance about them. So I was keen to learn a little more about them and from the title alone I guessed this would be a good opportunity to do just that.
Also on the front cover it proudly advised me this was a Gregory Summers Mystery and as I really enjoyed the other one featuring him that I read I thought this would be a great read. Especially when I looked at the compliments written about this book from various magazines and papers.
These were on the back cover of the book below the summary of the story. Which for me was a little on the short side, it was only two paragraphs. But within these paragraphs the author very successfully set the scene and put some wonderful elements together that really wetted my appetite.
The book began as every good book should with a prologue. I thought this set the scene really well while introducing the concept of the two very different travelling groups setting up temporary home in the town. While introducing the little girl Jessie Abbott to the reader and explaining her interest in these new people.
I expected the story to start then but got an unexpected surprise. Instead while introducing Superintendent Gregory she did it in a very odd setting, which had little to do with the story itself. He was involved in a hostage situation and he was one of those being held! It turned out well and he was in the short term anyway the hero of the situation.
Then story then reverted back to Josie and her mother and how they enjoyed the fair that day. I found the pace good and the author introduced a number of ideas that with this being a crime thriller you wondered what would be significant. I found the story very easy to get into, as I was keen to know what would happen next.
The reader didn't have to wait long for the girl's disappearance. I always like thrillers in which the crime happens early on because this gives the Detective more time to try and solve the case, but also allows for more twists in the plot. Although the disappearance of any Child and subsequent discovery is hard to read about, it was written well and thoughtfully done.
I found this story quite often surprised and impressed me, with the unexpected directions it took. For example I did not expect the towns people to react quite the way they did and the travellers reaction to this certainly confused me.
For me the story was cleverly written. The author as the story developed introduced a number of fascinating characters. All of whom could have committed the crime but seemed to lack the motive for it. I enjoyed the way doubt was cast over all of these but without a prime suspect for the crime.
I really enjoyed the story, but I also found Gregory Summers private life interesting and this really added another angle to it. All I will say here is he has an unusual relationship with his girlfriend and I kept looking forward to these intermissions because you were never sure what would happen next to them or in their relationship. It added suspense and mystery, which certainly increased the depth of the story.
The pace was always lively, with a conclusion that was well thought out and made sense within the context of the story. As the characters even at this exciting ending always acted in keeping with their personalities. It was all tied up really well and I felt the story had been rounded of completely with all the loose ends properly tidied up.
Despite this being the second novel I have read featuring Superintendent Summers as the lead character I still have decided if I like him or not. Yes he is a good Detective and gets results; I am just not convinced about his personality being distinct enough. There is little I remember about him when I reflect upon him with the exception to his relationship with his girlfriend, which troubles me. (Sorry I can't tell you about that, you just have to read the book to understand it!)
By contrast I found most of the novel's support characters excellent. I really found they were well written for, had depth to their characters and had were either unusual in stature or personality in some way. This made them all fascinating and there were always things you didn't know about them that needed investigating, as no one was quite what they first appeared.
All in all this was a well-constructed and excellently told story. With the author skilfully building up the suspense early in it and never letting go of it. Obviously it changed over the course of the story as information was found and new lines of investigation were discovered. There was more behind what was happening than people were letting on.
The length of the novel was just right to tell a wonderfully enjoyable story. Everything about the way it was written impressed me and I have found it hard to fault the author on the story and the majority of her characters. Perhaps I could argue humour was lacking in the main but I think this would have detracted from the story itself.
An excellent and well thought out crime thriller. I really enjoyed it and recommend it to all those who like a well written and fascinating story. My only concern about it is the lead character, I think I will just have to read another in the series so I can decide for one and for all whether I like him.
Price: £3.08 (New at Amazon)
Publisher: Allison & Busby (10 July 2001)
More about the author: fantasticfiction.co.uk/k/susan-kelly
First Published: 2000
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
@CPTDANIELS May 2010