I like puzzles and that is one of the things I like about crime fiction – solving the puzzle. The problem for crime fiction authors must be judging it correctly – how to drop the clues into the narrative in a subtle way so that the reader doesn’t get the solution too easily. I like being able to work it out for myself – but not too soon. In Payment Deferred, Joyce Holms has managed it well.
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Bywater Books (30 Aug 2007)
Source: Gift from the author
This is the first of Joyce Holms’s series of books featuring Tam Buchanan and Fizz Fitzpatrick. Tam is a lawyer who spends Monday mornings giving legal advice at a community centre in Edinburgh. Fizz is soon to be a mature student of Law and much against Tam’s better judgement talks her way into becoming his assistant. She looks like a teenager, but is actually 26, with a talent for getting people to talk to her.
Murray Kingston, an old friend of Tam’s, is released from prison having served three years convicted of molesting his daughter after his wife’s death. When he turns up at the community centre wanting Tam to clear his name and help him get his daughter back it is Fizz who persuades Tam to review the evidence. Murray believes he was set up.
I thought this was a well plotted book,which moves at a good pace, with a good sense of location (Edinburgh and Berwick) and convincing characters, particularly Fizz and Tam – the relationship between the two of them developed from lukewarm to exasperation. Having solved the case they part:
“See you around Buchanan,” she said coldly, as the doors slid shut between them.
Buchanan sagged back against the wall and closed his eyes. He felt utterly depleted.
“See you around, Fizz”, he whispered to the empty landing, and the words blew away like dry leaves into the silence.
But even as he said it, he knew with absolute certainty that he wouldn’t be shot of her so easily.
After a minute or two he started to laugh, and couldn’t stop.
Their partnership was not at an end, as there are eight more books in the series. I’ve already read the most recent – Missing Link.
Details of all Joyce’s books are on her website.