Saturday, June 07, 2014

What we're reading: New British murder series

Also from the new book shelves is Dead to Me, the first book in an intended series (Scott & Bailey #1) by Cath Staincliffe. It's a murder mystery, yes, but its cast of characters takes precedence, as we explore the workings of the Major Incident Team within the Manchester Police Department.

This is a new author to me, and on the basis of this book I would read others by her. It's a police procedural, and integrates a rookie detective into the ranks of an established crew. I appreciated the insights into breaking someone in to thinking and acting as a team member instead of as a lone wolf while simultaneously appreciating her leaps of instinct that further the case. I particularly enjoyed that the three main characters are female--the politically astute boss, the seasoned detective, and the ambitious, impatient newbie. The mystery itself--the murder of a young girl formerly "in care" (a reference to the foster care system)--kept my interest, and the book also indulged my affinity for British slang, humor, and mindset. A good one--it reminded me in some respects of the books of Deborah Crombie, which I also admire. I look forward to the next.

Apparently there is a British TV series called Scott & Bailey, featuring these same characters, that began in 2011 and is now in its fourth season, and this book is the prequel to that. One Goodreads reviewer said,
When I first picked up this book I thought it was the first book of a series on which one of my current favorite TV shows is based--Scott & Bailey, a British detective series on PBS. But then I read the intro and acknowledgments and realized it was written from the series, i.e., using the series characters and novelizing them, instead of vice versa. I'm not usually a big fan of this method, but I'll definitely make an exception here: Cath Staincliffe is a very good writer and she captured the characters perfectly and gave them depth and nuance.
The series is now airing in the United States on some PBS stations, although I couldn't find it on PBS SoCal, but you can watch episodes online--could be worth looking into as well!

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