Two Crime Fiction Titles

I’m behind with reviewing the books I’ve read, so here are short reviews of two crime fiction novels I’ve read recently:

Broken ground

Broken Ground by Val McDermid, the 5th Karen Pirie book. 4*

This begins in 1944 when two men bury a couple of wooden crates in a peat bog in Wester Ross in the Scottish Highlands. Seventy four years later Alice and her husband Will are on a treasure hunt, following a map Alice’s grandfather had left her. But they are astonished when discover the body of a man in the peat bog together with one of the crates. Perfectly preserved it appeared at first that this was a case for Karen’s friend Dr River Wilde, the forensic anthropologist. But the fact that the man was wearing a pair of Nikes, dating the body back to the 1990s ruled out that idea, which made it a case for Karen Pirie and her Historic Cases Unit.

This is a very readable book, moving swiftly along, that I really enjoyed. Karen has to cope with the unwelcome addition to her team of DS Gerry Mcartney. The ACC, Ann Markle and Karen just don’t get on and Karen suspects Markle is using McCartney to keep tabs on her and find a way to close the Unit down. It is a complicated case as attention switches back to events in 1944, the 1990s and the present day, although the actual murder mystery isn’t that difficult to work out.

Not Dead EnoughNot Dead Enough by Peter James, the 3rd Detective Superintendent Roy Grace book. 4*

It’s set in Brighton and begins with the murder of Katie Bishop. The immediate suspect is her husband Brian, but it appears that he couldn’t be the murderer unless he could have been in two places at once. Then Sophie Harrington is killed. She had been having an affair with Brian thus intensifying the police investigation into his movements and background.

Grace’s wife, Sandy, had disappeared nine years earlier and he is still wondering what happened to her even though he is now involved with Cleo Morey, the Chief Mortician and he takes a quick trip over to Munich when his friends tell him they had seen her there.

This is a re-read. I first read it in January 2014 and it was only when I reached the part about Sandy that I realised I had read it before. I think that this is because the two murders are particularly gruesome and either I’d scan read them before or had blocked them out of my mind. Apart from the gruesome murders I enjoyed this book and intend to carry on reading the Roy Grace books.

Not Dead Enough by Peter James

I read the first Detective Superintendent Roy Grace book, Dead Simple nearly two years ago now and have been meaning to read more of the books, so because I’m now concentrating on reading books I’ve owned before 1 January 2014 I thought it was time to read Not Dead Enough by Peter James. It’s the third Roy Grace book and whilst I don’t think it’s as good as Dead Simple I still enjoyed it – mainly because of the characterisation and the detail James goes into. It’s a long book and I see on Amazon that it’s been criticised for being too long and too detailed, but I liked that. For me it gave added interest and verisimilitude. Some people also criticised it because it has short chapters – to my mind that’s much better than having long chapters!

It’s set in Brighton and begins with the murder of Katie Bishop. The immediate suspect is her husband Brian Bishop, but it appears that he couldn’t be the murderer unless he could have been in two places at once. Then Sophie Harrington is killed. She had been having an affair with Brian thus intensifying the police investigation into his movements and background.

James takes his time setting out the details and the characters, so it’s quite slow to start off, but then the pace picks up, which makes this a quick read as I really wanted to know what happens next. It isn’t difficult to work out who the murderer is, but this didn’t lessen my enjoyment  – and there is just a little twist at the end that I hadn’t foreseen earlier on.

Roy Grace comes across as a real character, concerned about his work and his colleagues, even if he doesn’t get on too well with his boss, ACC Alison Vosper. Grace’s wife, Sandy, had disappeared nine years earlier and he is still wondering what happened to her even though he is now involved with Cleo Morey, the Chief Mortician and he takes a quick trip over to Munich when his friends tell him they had seen her there. This takes his attention away from the murders and he has to defend his visit to Vosper.

This is very much a police procedural, detailing how the detectives go about their work, including Grace’s ideas about whether eye movements indicate whether a person is telling the truth, which I’ve read about before, and what happens when a person is charged and arrested, which I know very little about (only from books and TV – and want to keep it that way)!