Written by Christina James

Review written by Judith Sullivan

Judith Sullivan is a writer in Leeds, originally from Baltimore. She is working on a crime series set in Paris. Fluent in French, she’s pretty good with English and has conversational Italian and German. She is working to develop her Yorkshire speak.

Salt Publishing
RRP: £8.99
Released: 15h November 2012

This is the first in what I hope long series of DI Yates novels. This is one male copper with a real back story that involves no alcoholism, lost children, sexual dysfunction or any of the usual saws of the series male cop.

He is a guy, a young guy, based in Spalding, Lincolnshire, happily married and good at his job – cheerful even. That would sound – um – dead boring if his maiden case was not so interesting and complex. Flipping back and forth between recent past and present, James (a pseudonym) presents the Atkins family.  These guys make dysfunction as everyday sounding as Weetabix for breakfast in other families. A murder two decades back may or may not be linked to a current case. A little old lady whiling away her final days may or may not have murdered her own mother-in-law. A surviving member of the clan who himself may or may not have hooked up with a manipulative murderous paramour.

The way the tale unravels is interesting and the details unsettling (or settling in some ways for those readers who think their relatives have a lock on dysfunction ). This reader was happy to see the least savoury members of this unsavoury lot get their overdue due  and enjoyed the mingling of old and new cases into one believable yarn.

One quibble might be the voice of Hedley Atkins, narrated in the first person, but not in a different typeface to the rest of the book. It was occasionally hard to pinpoint and not always as believable as the third person elements of the detective story.

This is a minor point with what is otherwise a refreshing take on the procedural. The team of cops and the band of baddies are all given room to grow and contribute. And I am looking forward to spending more time with Yates and his merry men and women.


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