Good Reading : October 2007
28 goodreading ı OCTOBER 2007 word of mouth crime fiction Beneath the Bleeding Val McDermid The latest Dr Tony Hill and DCI Carol Jordan offering is part cracker, part fizzer. The cracking part involves a series of bizar re poisonings, which Tony Hill must ponder from his hospital bed, for when the novel opens Tony is felled by an axe wielded by one of the inmates of Bradfield Moor mental hospital. Luckily, the part felled is a leg, so although he’s in pain and intermittently muddled by morphine, Dr Hill can still apply his diamond-sharp brain to the puzzle as to who would murder a pools winner, a footballer and a retired policeman using a series of obscure poisonous plants. Also enjoyable are the relation- ships between Tony and Carol – never so fraught as now, but never in danger of ending, either; the members of Carol’s elite crime-busting eam; and said team nd the grunts from he Counter Terrorism Command, aka the mperial Stor m Troopers. The reason for the inclusion of the CTC is, alas, at the heart of the fizzing element of this novel. A supposed ter rorism act at Bradfield football stadium, while real and convincing in the description of car nage and panic, has a bizarre and rather unlikely provenance. But even on less than her top for m, McDer mid is up there with the best. ★★★ HarperCollins $32.99 Reviewed by Alison Pressley Not in the Flesh Ruth Rendell The ump- teenth CI Wexford novel starts with the discovery of a human hand, and subsequently its accompa- nying body, in a long-disused field. The field was once slated for housing development but when the plan was knocked back by the local council its owner, a nasty piece of work called John Grimble, refused to touch it again.Then a second body is discovered buried under wood in the cellar of Grimble’s late father’s uninhabited house. The plot thickens. Unfortunately, the plot plods too. While the denouement is fast-paced and some interesting revelations come to light, the majority of the novel is mired in sleep-inducing detail as Wexford and Burden and the rest of the team sieve through missing persons records and encounter many red herrings and false leads. As usual with Rendell a current social problem gets an airing as a sub-plot; this time it’s the genital mutilation of African Muslim girls in Britain. And as usual Dora, Sheila, Sylvia and the little girls put in a show or two. But too many yawns, too many grumpy or ditsy characters with whom one would rather not make an acquaintance mar this workmanlike but uninspiring novel. ★★ Hutchinson $32.95 Reviewed by Roz Everett The Chameleon’s Shadow Minette Walters Gosh, Minette Walters is great. If she wrote a book on vegan cuisine from south- er n Estonia, I’d read it – then wait by the bookshelves for its sequel. Thought I’d better get that out of the way first. So, what of her new book, The Chameleon’s Shadow? Disturbing, hor rifying, brutal – in other words, Walters at her best. Lt Charles Acland, a British soldier, is horribly disfigured in a roadside bombing while on assignment in Iraq. As the sole survivor of the attack, Acland battles the guilt of losing two soldiers in his command. With the ar rival of family and friends at his bedside, yet more demons surface and Acland is drawn into a chilling examination of his or mer world. Meanwhile, London is in he grip of panic concer ning a possible gay serial killer targeting elderly men. After two violent outbursts, Acland comes to the attention of police, who begin to wonder whether he might be involved. alters again ploughs the fertile ground of war zones, as she did so masterfully in her last book, The Devil’s Feather. The Chameleon’s Shadow is a unique examination of contemporary dysfunction and identity that deserves serious consideration as one of the finest fictional treatments of war’s devastating psychological impact since Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy. I’m not kidding. ★★★★ Allen & Unwin $32.95 Reviewed by Guy Mosel www.goodreadingmagazine.com Find a bookshop that stocks the books YOU LIKE TO READ! Find out what book events are HAPPENING NEAR YOU! Let us help you find an OUT-OF-PRINT BOOK! SIGN UP FOR OUR FREE E-NEWSLETTER!