This was part of a pack of books I bought over Christmas (5 for £5 or something similar, either at Tesco's or The Works) when I was on the look out for some cracking crime fiction. I love reading all genres of fiction but crime fiction is my favourite and it's been quite thin on the ground on my "to be reveiwed" pile lately, so I was hoping for something deliciously macabre to keep me turning the pages with bated breath long past my bedtime ! Well, this wasn't bad as an appetiser but it didn't really leave me feeling satisfied because I found it a bit tame and a bit slow.
The story takes place in the rural town of Eastvale during the politically tense period of the 1980's. Even as a child at the time, I remember all the protests and demonstrations that were always on the news - the miner's strike, the Greenham Common women, Ban the Bomb, Greenpeace, CND, gay rights, ... Everybody seemed to be jumping on the bandwagon and protesting about something and the book accurately depicts the simmering tension of the time.
The book features one such protest - an anti-nuclear demonstration - which spirals out of control and results in a police officer being stabbed to death. A ruthless superintendent, nicknamed Dirty Dick Burgess, is sent to to resolve the case but his heavy handed methods and male chauvinist streak rub people, both in and out of uniform, up the wrong way. A group of slightly eccentric locals living in what resembles a hippy commune in a refurbished farm called Maggie's Farm provide a handy pool of suspects, especially as several of them were at the protest, but local copper Inspector Banks wants to look beyond the obvious scapegoats to get to the truth.
It's a bit like Country Files meets Agatha Christie, with wind-weathered shepherds turning up murder weapons and one of the lowest crime rates I've ever seen in a work of crime fiction, but the plot does plod along to a fairly satisfying end, albeit minus the vast quantities of blood shed, tortured minds and adrenalin that usually fuel this kind of plot. If you want something gentler than a sickeningly depraved serial killer who gets his kicks by taunting the police, it will tick all the right boxes. It left me wanting to get my teeth into something more full-on though.
star rating : 3.5/5
RRP : £6.99