Monday, January 30, 2017

Darkside by Belinda Bauer

Shipcott is a small, rural village where everyone knows everyone and everyone knows everyone's business.  There's little crime and that's just how they like it.  Constable Jonas Holly is the village policeman.  He grew up in Shipcott so all are comfortable with him.  Jonas planned a big police career, but when his wife, Lucy, developed multiple scoliosis, he moved back to the village where the demands would not be as great and he could watch after Lucy.

All this is thrown in disarray when a body is discovered.  Margaret Priddy was elderly and paralyzed, confined to her bed, not even able to speak.  She is suffocated one night.  That means the big guns in law enforcement are called in and that means DCI John Marvel.  Marvel is a brutish, arrogant detective who delights in showing everyone he's the boss, especially his subordinates.  He doesn't want to be in Shipcott, especially in the middle of a blizzard which lasts for days.  He takes an immediate dislike to Holly for not being subservient.  Far from using Holly's local expertise, he instead gives him a series of menial tasks, making it apparent to all that he's not considered useful.  As the days go by, more murders occur in the village, all of elderly men and women.  Apparently, Shipcott has a serial killer.

Someone in the village expects Jonas to solve the crimes.  He starts to get taunting notes, holding him accountable for finding the killer and saving the village.  Jonas is caught in a vise.  On one hand, his whole life is about protecting and saving those around him.  On the other, he is being kept on the outside by a man who knows nothing about the village or its inhabitants and who doesn't want Jonas' insights.  Can the killer be found?

Belinda Bauer is writing some of the most suspenseful novels around today.  She was written seven crime novels which have won some of the mystery field's highest prizes, such as the Crime Writer's Association Gold Dagger Award, the Old Peculier Crime Novel, and the CWA Dagger in the Library award.  Her books feature the small rural Wales she knows so well and the effect crime has in such places where everyone thinks they know everyone else, but in reality secrets are kept and often explode into violence.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

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