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I have had this book on one of my many bookshelves for a few years and for one reason or another never got round to reading it. That sounds very grand I suppose but it's not I love reading and have lots of bookshelves but not much else!! So as a wet and cold weekend was forecasted the other week I decided to give it a crack, so with several cups of coffee and a cuddly blanket and set myself the task of doing just that.
==About the author:==
Graham Ison is a well-respected crime novelist, having written 27 books to date. He began his career as a Soldier before spending the next 30 years in Scotland Yard's Special Branch, working in a variety of different roles. These days he is a full time author as well as being an after dinner speaker and occasional obituaries writer for the Daily Telegraph.
==Synopsis of the book:==
A prostitute, Monica Purvis's body is found in her London flat having been brutally murdered. Detective Chief Inspector Brock and his partner Dave Poole are called to investigate the crime. Initially they check with her co-workers and find she was a popular lady with seemingly few enemies.
On further investigation into her life, the detectives discover she was up to 18 months ago working at Heathrow Airport as a check in girl, but got fired because of her bad time keeping. Why had she turned to Prostitution? As she was by all accounts an intelligent and very capable young lady with no expensive habits.
Further enquiries discover an estranged husband who has recently been realised from prison after serving a three year sentence for armed robbery. Brock discovers that her co-worker at Heathrow Sylvia Moorcroft and boyfriend have a more intimate relationship with Monica and her husband. And after questioning Sylvia's partner is found the following day drowned in the river. Can Brock and Poole solve the puzzle?
==My thoughts on the book:==
I thought this was a very realistic, believable and highly enjoyable crime novel. I often criticise crime writers in particular for be unrealistic in their writing, the way things seem to conveniently slot into place. With this author I felt a more honest and frank approach to Police work with many roads leading no-where at all. I think maybe the fact he was in the Police force demonstrates his understanding of their painstaking work and therefore the realism of what they have to do.
With this being my first novel I have read from Graham Ison, I didn't have a clue what to expect. Some times this can be a positive thing as you are pleasantly surprised by what you read. But conversely it can be bad and you end up not liking the style of writing and give up after a few chapters. I'm glad to say this book was definitely in the formers class.
This is the first in the series of so far eight books that feature Brock and Poole as the investigation team and as such introduced them. Although I wouldn't have necessarily guessed this by the way the book was written. As the author did not dwell on either man's history, he just provided tantalising remarks about them as the case unfolded and potential for scope in his future novels. I would have liked more background as I always think it allows you to build up not only a better picture but a greater understanding into their characters.
What originally attracted me to the book was the title 'Working Girl'. As I thought this opened up many possibilities, especially once I read the short summary on the back of the book. And I discovered it was an investigation into a Prostitutes death, I thought it threw up many options as to why she would have been murdered.
I must admit I love a good well-written crime novel. In which you are seemingly working along side the detective as he seeks to solve the case. I thought this book was very well written and Ison is excellent at describing both the scene and the colourful characters within it. What surprised me and what first made me think this book was a bit dated was the lack of forensic evidence. A woman does not just get stabbed without evidence being left certainly these days with the advances in Medical Science, DNA and forensics.
I do not like any books regardless of their type when you are waiting for something to happen. In this one we were straight into the case, as the first scene dealt with the Police's reaction to the discovery of the body. From there it remained a face paced mystery, where the further the Police investigated the more suspects were discovered but few with any motives to want this mysterious girl dead.
For me the best part of this book was undoubtedly the story itself. I found the investigation exciting and I never knew what information was coming and what avenues they would have to take. I found it realistic which was refreshing with a Senior Police Officer really struggling to find the answers.
I enjoyed the book from start to finish; its pace was fast throughout, with an exciting concluding chapter, which was again honest and very realistic. Too many times to the guilty parties collapse under questioning and give the game away, in this novel Brock and Poole had to work cut out to achieve anything.
So far I have said lots of good things about the book, but it can't all be good! I did struggle a bit with the lead character DCI Brock. He was a likeable man but he never convinced me that he was a great copper. Too often did he struggle to get anywhere in the case and I found a few of his decisions odd. I do not feel on the strength of this novel that I have really got to know the lead character well enough. I think this tells me the author probably did not spend long enough on his profile and getting the reader to feel an affinity towards him.
The other support characters were by contrast more convincing, I liked the relationship between Brock and Poole and the way they understood each other's actions before they were made. I also found their humour and sarcasm refreshing and clearly it was something they employed to survive in their work. The other characters were all very diverse maybe it would have been good to have a little more details on each of them so I could have understand their characters slightly better and their motivations then they would have been more memorable to me.
The book was written back in 2002. But to me it seemed more dated than that and if I have a true criticism it would be that the Police procedures and practices in this novel seemed very slow and cumbersome. Even DCI Brock at times seemed a dinosaur in his attitude and approach to the crime investigation, but maybe that was just being realistic as it can't be all fast cars, swift action and brilliant deductions.
That said there was always enough to keep me more than interested in the plot. I found the dead women's life fascinating and I was keen to understand why she had decided to go into Prostitution but towards the end of the novel the answer to that question was revealed.
I do think this thriller did lack a proper build up of suspense. I think that had a lot to do with the author's style of writing. He was better with the dialogue and the facts rather than building up either mystery or suspense.
The author seemed to lack real depth in his descriptions and as a result you feel you are definitely missing something in his writing. He fails to set a scene properly and to do justice to the characters he employs within his story. If they were described in greater depth I'm sure I would warm to them better and have greater empathy or at least understanding towards them.
It was a compelling story and although it was comparatively short book it was long enough to explain and excellent story. Being well broken up into decent size chapters that signposted a new scene for the two detectives.
I am really pleased I finally read this novel. I did enjoy it in the main and would recommend it to all crime fiction fans. I particularly liked the authors down to earth approach and found his style to be logical, practical and very believable. I certainly will be reading more books from this author over the coming months as I think he has more to offer and this was a good introduction to his writing abilities, I just hope he expands his descriptions in the next one as that was what the story lacked real depth in not only that but his characters backgrounds.
Publisher: Severn House
Price: £0.16-£16.99 Amazon
About the author: wwwgrahamison.co.uk
Thanks for reading my review.
This review was published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
@CPTDANIELS April 2009.