Monday, March 04, 2019
Winterman by Alex Walters
Although I've never read anything by Alex Walters before, I enjoyed Winterman, the first in a proposed new series.
The opening sequence, set in 1940, establishes a bit of the backstory. The novel then moves to the period shortly after the war.
In 1947, having offended some of his superiors, DI Ivan Winterman is sent to the Fen District in East Anglia. In postwar Britain, there is a shortage of everything: manpower, food, fuel for transportation, coal for heating.
Effectively exiled , Winterman finds himself in an understaffed police station in a small village. The area has previously been known for mostly small time offenses, and Winterman expects little involvement with serious crime.
Shortly before Winterman's arrival, however, the body of a child, dead for years and preserved by burial in the Fens, is discovered. There is no record of a child having gone missing in any of the neighboring villages and the body is unidentified. The situation is curious, but does not seem urgent...
Until the body of a second child in similar condition shows up. As a blizzard sets in, bringing the coldest winter conditions on record, the body of a third child appears. Someone has unearthed the bodies and displayed them.
If the bodies of the three children were not enough in this remote area in the midst of a blizzard, two grown men are murdered and a constable disappears. In short order, Winterman finds himself dealing with a truly freakish situation--three old murders, two recent murders, a shortage of backup, weather that is further isolating, characters who may or may not be trustworthy, and secrets that someone wants exposed. Who were the children and why is there no record of them anywhere?
The setting is visual and cold! The isolation of the villages and the austerity of postwar Britain make the weather conditions a crucial part of the narrative.
Crime/Mystery/Historical. Feb. 26, 2019. Print length: 470 pages.