The Magazine for Crime & Mystery



Val McDermid Interview

Nevada Barr on writing HUNTING SEASON plus an excerpt

Paul Doherty's short story THE KYRIE MAN

Stark Contrasts Michael Carlson examines the pulp fiction of Richard Stark

Have you got what it takes to be a Writer? by Fiona Shoop

It Could Only Happen in Hollywood

The Next Accident

Lisa Gardner

Orion £10.99

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Reviewed by Gwen Moffat

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The Next Accident opens with an explosive sex scene fuelled by champagne and culminating in a fatal car crash. General reaction being that a drunken driver not wearing her seat belt and killing a dog walker and his fox terrier deserves to go through the windscreen. On the other hand the astute reader isn't the only person to suspect the involvement of A.N.Other shortly before the crash. The dead driver's father suspects foul play and brings in his former girl friend who confirms it.

Behind a miasma of deceit, conspiracy and not very credible disguises, is a simple revenge plot; a psychopath from his past haunting FBI agent Pierce Quincy, not with the intention of killing him but with the slow and exquisite torture of a murderous progress through Quincy's family: daughters, lover, ex-wife, and people who merely get in the way. Not everyone dies of course, this is traditional stuff and good has to triumph in the end. However, there are enough bodies to make you lose count as you try to concentrate on the intricacies of breaking alibis, a task made harder by one unforeseen feature (bit of a cheat, that) and the fact that the action commutes between Virginia and Oregon and points intermediate.

Plenty of sex and violence then - Grand Guignol for the connoisseur - and you can't fault the research. More than one of the characters majored in psychology, but although modern in its whydunnit aspect the novel is predictable even to Quincy's lover, PI Lorraine Connor, playing the part of the tethered goat. No doubt she will surface again: feminine yet well-muscled (running the statutory mileage before breakfast), vulnerable yet resourceful: losing her Glock in the grand climax but disarming her antagonist with a metal chair. New woman, but the coup de grace has to be delivered by her man. Old story.

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