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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Joy Ellis and Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

This is not one of Joy Ellis' crime series, although it is set in the fens and the main character was with the police until serious injuries changed her life course.  

Brief description:

Who do you turn to when life goes wrong?
Stella’s life has changed forever. Her only support is her amazing grandmother, Beth. But Beth also faces the biggest challenge of her life.
Stella North, a rising star in the police, has her life torn apart by a gunman’s bullets. All her life she has faced danger, but these injuries mean she must give up the job she loves.  Her grandmother Beth is her rock. And Beth is no ordinary woman. At seventy, she runs marathons and has an exciting past that Stella knows very little about.
Will Stella find the strength to overcome the challenges of her new life, and will her grandmother at last resolve the deep emotional turmoil of her past?
As much as I've love Ellis' fen series, this book doesn't fall in my typical choice of genre.  It is classified as Women's Fiction.  I didn't dislike it by any means, but I was hoping for more of Nikki Galena and her crew.

I was already familiar with urban exploration and urban decay from seeing photos on different sites for the last several years, but the novel does an interesting job in discussing this pastime/obsession.  Many of the photos urban explorers take are gorgeous, but most of the locations have a an air of desolation that is hard to shake.  The explorations range from the grand to the industrial, and there is always that combination of fascinating and sad about abandoned buildings.

NetGalley/Joffe Books

Women's Fiction.  Apr. 28, 2017.  

A while back NetGalley offered a Bill Slider mystery (Old Bones) by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles that succeeded on a number of levels:  good police procedural, great characterization and dialogue, an intricate plot, great writing, and excellent use of comic relief to break the tension. I knew I wanted more of the series, and I happened to find Gone Tomorrow on my last trip to the library.

A well-dressed man is found murdered in a park.  All identification is missing, but a thousand pounds of cash has been left, so robbery was not the motive.  Slider and his team's first step is to discover the name of the victim.  This doesn't turn out to be as easy as they hoped; in fact, nothing in the investigation turns out to be easy, and the death toll mounts.

Harrod-Eagles scatters allusions to literature and contemporary culture throughout, and in the text they feel pretty natural and not at all distracting.  In the chapter titles, on the other hand: "How Grim Was My Valet" and "From Err to Paternity" were obvious and amusing, but most, while funny in their own right, detracted from the seriousness of the plot.  Some were just strained and awkward.  It must have been fun for the author to come up with them, but perhaps the temptation should have been avoided.

Plot and characters--excellent.  Chapter titles--not so much.  

I liked Gone Tomorrow (2001) but Old Bones (2017) shows some differences in writing style that I appreciated more.  Harrod-Eagles has progressed from very good in Gone Tomorrow to excellent in Old Bones--I'm eager to read more in the Bill Slider series, picking up from Gone Tomorrow and moving forward to the more recent books.

Library Copy.

Police Procedural/British.  2001.  367 pages.


  1. These sound good, Jenclair. I haven't read either author before. I'm especially interested in Old Bones from your description of it.

    1. I really like Joy Ellis' police procedurals set in the fens. I've reviewed quite a few of those. Guide Star, however, is quite different.

      Do try Old Bones! A great mystery and well-developed characters.

  2. I'm not familiar with any of these authors, but Gone Tomorrow sounds like an intriguing read to me.

    And, your letter arrived yesterday! :)

  3. I've enjoyed the Cynthia Harrod-Eagles mysteries I've read. Sometimes I have to look up the titles in my Books Read List to recall if I've read them or not--a reflection on me, not the author. Plus, I love her last name, but haven't ever pursued any more information about it.

    1. When you read a lot, you can't always keep things straight! There are books I read a lifetime ago that I remember well, but what I read yesterday....sometimes not so much. Most books don't even deserve being remembered well, they just provide a few hours of entertainment. :)