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Posts Tagged ‘police procedural’

The Blood Strand by Chris Ould

British screen writer and author, Chris Ould, just published “The Blood Strand,” a Foroyar Novel, in February 2016.  This police procedural is set in the Faroe Islands.  Administratively, the Faroe Islands are a part of Denmark.  When there is a police matter too complex for the local officers a team is often called in from Denmark to help solve the case.  It is quite close to the British Isles and gets a fair number of British tourists, and in this case, it is a Faroese native who has lived most of his life in Great Britain and is a British detective, Jan Reyna, who helps the local police detective, Hjalti Hentze, and his team to solve a couple murders that might be tied to members of his family in the Faroe Islands.  Jan is on the Islands to visit his ailing estranged father, Signar Ravensfjall.  Signar is not expected to recover from a massive stroke and the family is being gathered.

The police determine that there is something suspicious about Signar being found in his car in a remote part of the islands.  When Jan and Hjalti make the connection and start questioning possible witnesses or criminals, the people they contact start to die, and Jan begins to  wonder if some of his relatives are involved in something illegal.

Like so many Police procedurals this book is slow at times because the process of discovery for all the details that must be unraveled in this case is slow and repetitive. Sometimes Jan and Hjalti walk away with no new information during visits to possible witnesses and suspects, sometimes they get a small sliver of information, and increasingly toward the end of the book, the pieces start coming together.  A reader must have a certain amount of patience to get through this 435 page book, but increasingly the reader is rewarded by this complex and tightly woven plot.  It is amazing that so many secrets can be kept on this small and sparsely populated set of islands.  In respect to the remote island setting, the circumspect Scandinavian population, and the dark family secrets, “The Blood Strand” reminds me of the first in the Steig Larsson trilogy.

I give “The Blood Strand” at lease one thumb up.  I just wish the investigation had been a little shorter or a little more exciting in the first two thirds of the book.

Liz Nichols

(Reviewed from a provided proof copy.)

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Stop Dead by Leigh Russell

Frequently I find that British detective and police procedurals are written using abbreviations and colloquialisms that are difficult for Americans to understand.  Such is not the case with Leigh Russell’s new police procedural mystery, “Stop Dead.”  Russell even provides a short glossary of terms, something that I am sure most American readers appreciate.  This is the fifth novel in her “A Geraldine Steel Mystery” series.  Steel is a smart, savvy Detective Inspector (DI) who recently moved from a police department in Kent to one in London.

Steel and her side-kick Detective-Sergeant, Samantha Haley, investigate the brutal murder of a restauranteur, Patrick Henshaw.  The particular MO occurs in a couple more murders as the investigation progresses and in the end it appears the detectives are looking for a serial killer.  Is this someone closely associated with Henshaw such as his wife, his business partner or a girl friend, or is this a random act of violence?

The novel is tightly written and is hard to put down.

Stop Dead” is highly recommended for fans of British Police procedurals.

Reviewed from a supplied copy.

Liz Nichols

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Skeleton Picnic by Michael Norman

Skeleton Picnic” is the second in the J.D. Books Mystery series.  Norman is a resident of Utah and sets this particular series in the southwestern corner of that state in the area surrounding the rugged Grand Staircase Escalante Monument.  I found this mystery to be extremely interesting because it explores the little-discussed topic of the illegal antiquities trade of the Four Corners area of the Southwest.

J.D. Books is a Bureau of Land Management law enforcement officer who transplanted to the Kanab, UT area not long before from the Denver Police Department.  He grew up in the area and still has a father and sister nearby, but because he has been away he can view the politics and social connections in this tight-knit Mormon community somewhat dispassionately.  Not every official and sworn officer is able to divorce family traditions and feelings about what is called a “skeleton picnic” from the legality of the practice.

A “skeleton picnic” is the local way of saying people are going out into the ancient Indian burial grounds and grave-robbing for valuable artifacts.  People like Kanab High School history teacher, Roland Rogers and his wife, were widely known to have an extensive illegal antiquities collection.  Others in the community have quite an under-the-table business in selling these illicit goods on the black market.  When Rogers and his wife turn up missing and their house is ransacked in an apparent robbery, the town must confront the fact that going on “skeleton picnics” can be dangerous.  It is up to J.D. Books, his counterpart with the county sheriff’s department, Elizabeth Tanner, and others in the BLM and local law enforcement, as well as the FBI, to figure out if the Rogers couple ran-afoul of over-zealous tribal law enforcement, other antiquities hunters, drug dealers, big-time antiquities dealers, petty burglars, or some combination.

This police procedural has plenty of action and lots of possibilities for suspects with means and motive to kill.  The book poses an interesting question of whether generations of family tradition among the mostly Mormon pot hunters can be turned around by taking a fresh look at the consequences of these actions and how many people get hurt by the practice.  Will real-life situations like the ones portrayed in the book ever cause the pot hunters to stop?

J.D. Books is a likeable character with sufficient complexity to become a regular subject for a mystery series.  The situations that someone in his position can get in to is as limitless as the vast territory he patrols.  I look forward to reading more books in the series.

Reviewed from a provided copy.  The book is currently available for sale.

Liz Nichols

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Bad Intentions by Karin Fossum

Bad Intentions” is a police procedural and psychological thriller in the  “Inspector Sejer Mystery” series by Norwegian author, Karin Fossum.

Konrad Sejer and his partner, Skarre, must discover how a mentally ill patient at a hospital psych ward let out for a weekend with his two best friends ended up several hundred meters off-shore drowned in a lake called Dead Water. The victim, Jon Moreno, did not show signs of being suicidal when he left the institution, and he did seem anxious about leaving his new-found girl friend to go off with these particular friends, Axel and Reilly.

The reader knows what happens early on.  The investigative team has suspicions, but no real proof, until they find the body of another young man in another lake, a man who had been missing for several months. The tension is palpable in this tightly written thriller right from the first chapter, and it keeps getting even stronger as the book goes on.

The best thing about the book is its focus on bringing these flawed characters to life by delving deep into their inner-beings.  Jon’s diary is one of the vehicles used to get to know the tragic Jon and his morally barren friends. Jon’s mother, the investigators, and Jon’s girl friend Molly all shed perspective on the inner nature of these three young men. Each gets worked up and “psyched out” about what they have done and what is going to happen to each of them if they tell the truth.

Each young man has a very different reaction to the situations that unfold.  Jon becomes anxious and blames himself; Reilly turns to drink, drugs and a kitten; Axel denies even to himself that he bares any blame in either boys’ death.  Axel sees the only solution as each agreeing to a pact to never reveal any of the details and he is upset as he sees the other two break down.

The question remains, did anyone actually responsible for the deaths of these young men, or were they just unfortunate accidents that got covered up? Is the crime the cover-up or the deaths?

A fascinating read.

Liz Nichols

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