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With a Narrow Blade (Hillary Greene Series) - Faith Martin

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Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Faith Martin / Hardcover / 224 Pages / Book is published 2007-08-31 by Robert Hale Ltd

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      04.04.2012 17:59
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      Good Mystery

      ==Background:==

      I had a few days of work recently so I was very keen to catch up with some reading. So I raided my bookshelves looking for some forgotten novel that I had never got round to reading. I found this one and to be honest I can't remember either where or when I purchased it, but I thought it was way time I read it.


      ==About the author:==


      Faith Martin is a British author having been born in Oxford. All her 11 novels have been within the crime field and all form part of the Detective Inspector Hillary Greene series. The novel I am about to review is the 6th of these and was first published in 2007.


      ==Synopsis of the book:==


      Hillary Greene in her fledgling career as a Detective Inspector has a 100% success rate in solving murders. A record she is very proud and keen to continue, despite the fact her team are going through a time of change and readjustment. As her sergeant is due to marry in a couple of weeks and she has inherited a new Detective Constable Barrington who has been transferred following a fight with his previous boss.


      The team are called to investigate a murder of an elderly lady who has been found by a friend of hers with a paper knife through her heart. The lady Flo Jenkins appears a harmless soul and the murder seems meaningless especially as she only had a matter of weeks to live as cancer was making her life more and more painful and her drugs where only slowing down the inevitable. She had little money and few possessions, so who and why would anyone do such a vile act shortly before Christmas?


      ==My thoughts on the novel:==


      My overall assessment of this book was it was a well thought out and enjoyable piece of crime fiction. The book pleasantly surprised me and I was glad I dusted of my bookshelves and finally looked at it. I found the story to be always interesting and although I would not describe it as a page turner it was well written and always had me involved in it and wanting to know the answer to this unusual mystery.


      This is my first experience of this author so I had no preconceived ideas about what I was about to read. And I was impressed there no compliments about the author's work to be found. As I find this useless, if a critic must give their opinion it would be far more useful to have it about the book you are about to read not what they think generally about his or her style of writing. This book unusually had nothing like this and I felt I could as a result approach this story with fresh eyes.


      I suppose I really should have picked the first book in this series and I have no idea why I selected this the sixth. The only reason I think is because it was the one that was for sale at the car-boot or charity shop I bought it from. But by buying one that is in the middle of the series it allows me to see if it makes sense to a person who has no previous knowledge of what has happened previously to the key characters in the story. And in truth I did struggle a bit relating and understanding what had happened previously.


      Yes this was a self contained story that started and finished in this book, but it referred in several occasions to previous cases that reared there heads again. I found this confusing as I did not know what happened before and I did not feel the author explained enough about it. I also felt it had no relevance to what I was reading and just made me want to switch off whenever something from a previous case was mentioned. I suppose had you read the previous stories this would have been interesting but for a first timer it meant nothing to me.


      What I liked about the book when I first picked it up with the summary on the inside cover. It was two good sized paragraphs long and it focused on two aspects. Firstly, the what seemed a meaningless killer of an old lady who would have died in a few weeks anyway. And secondly, the changes within DI Greene's department and how this was a time of settling in for the newcomer and one of tidying all the lose ends for another. I thought it sounded from this very interesting as I like a mystery that also focuses on the team investigating it.


      The story started by introducing the new boy to the team DC Barrington. This I thought was for a new reader an excellent start as we both had a lot to learn about the new team he found himself in. Especially interesting I thought because the fact DI Greene did not necessarily want this man with his violent temper and he knew by transferring to a new station everyone would be gossiping about him and what made him move.


      I liked the way the story started to develop although I like the Detectives found the motive for the murder a real mystery. The only negative I found was there seemed to be so few suspects for the murder, I kept expecting for find more appear and a few did but at the same time others where getting crossed off. I would have liked to see at least another three possible suspects as I found little mystery was being built up.


      While at the same time we where learning all about DI Greene's team. The story was certainly improved by the sub plots within the story featuring some of her team and the issues they where facing in both their professional and private lives. As the author tried and succeeded in my opinion in sharing each of the characters viewpoints at various developments. This helped you understand them better but was not done in any great depth, but for me it worked.


      The investigation itself I felt in some was was overshadowed by other developments. As to be honest little seemed to be happening there but plenty to the characters investigating it. But I still enjoyed it, I think because it was unusual and not a particularly complex case. It had a good pace to it and I found it easy to follow without ever taxing me.


      With a conclusion that was cleverly thought out and something I had not previously considered. It's depth matched what preceded it and I thought it all made perfect sense in terms of the story. The only thing that didn't was when characters behave differently to what you expected. This happened at the very end of the story, maybe we aren't constant in our patterns of behaviour (perish the thought!) but by doing this the author has set up an interesting start to the next book.


      I would describe DI Hillary Greene as the lead character in this series, but for me she was only one of several in her team that where focused on. I really liked her managing the investigation because she was open and honest with her team and shock upon shock she gets on well with her boss!! I found her the sort of person you would like to work for and I respected how she got things done. Mind you her private life is interesting and I enjoyed the insight into it. I liked the diverse characters in her team and the way they don't always get on and see eye to eye and I'm sure this with give her a lot of concepts for future books.


      The book is about the length I would expect. It is comparatively short at 224 pages but it tells a good story that is easy to follow and understand. My only disappointment when I researched this book was I was unable to find it in a paperback format. This makes it quite expensive although I did find a used copy on Amazon for Five pound fifty. The best bet is to route it out second hand as the list price of almost eighteen pounds to far to expensive for this.


      ==Conclusion:==


      I thought this was a good piece of crime fiction. It was what I would describe as an ideal holiday read, that is because it was a well thought out murder mystery but one that was not too deep or taxed the reader to much. I enjoyed it and will be trying another in the series in the next few weeks to see how it compares.


      Thanks for reading my review.


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


      © CPTDANIELS April 2012.

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