Friday, August 22, 2014

What we're reading: Bolton continued

I blogged about two weeks ago on the subject of gothic mystery writer S. J. (Sharon) Bolton's stand-alone books, and was about to embark on her series featuring one detective. I have read all four books in the series now, and am happy to say that the excellence continues. I am sad to say that I have no more to look forward to until she publishes another...and since the last one is brand new, that will be awhile.

Jack the Ripper fans rejoice: In Now You See Me, Bolton has provided another copycat Ripper killer in London for you to puzzle over. This first in the Detective Lacey Flint series is a lot more than that, though, which is good, because I'm not so much a Ripper aficionado, so I only started this one because I am a Bolton fan. I'm glad I read it--not only is it the set-up for the series, but Bolton also brings back Dana Tulloch from her very first book, Sacrifice, and I had really liked that character. I love unexpected twists in my mysteries, and Bolton keeps them coming until the very last page. You could almost call her the master of the red herring. (In case you, like me, have wondered where that idiom came from: Modern linguistic research suggests that the term "red herring" was probably invented in 1807 by English polemicist William Cobbett, referring to one occasion on which he had supposedly used a kipper--a strong-smelling smoked fish--to divert hounds from chasing a hare. It thus came to mean using something to mislead or distract from the relevant or important issue.)

In Dead Scared, DC Lacey Flint is recruited by DI Mark Joesbury (from the undercover division) to enroll as a student at Oxford in order to ferret out why there has been a rash of unlikely suicides and whether that's all they are. Wow, this was an insane plot. I had a better idea whodunnit in this one, but it didn't matter--the whole thing was so wild that it kept me fascinated to the last page. All my favorite characters came back, including the two from stand-alone book #3, whose unsatisfactory lack of resolution to their relationship made me think they might turn up again.

In the United States, the next book in the series was published as Lost, but in the U.K. it's called Like This, For Ever. This one is a bit more disturbing, because it involves murdered kids--someone is luring them away, draining them of blood, and leaving them for the police to find. Some of it is from an 11-year-old boy's point of view, some of it from Lacey Flint's, who is out of work trying to recover from the traumatic events of the last case, and some from the team of detectives from previous books, and it's equally as well written and intriguing as all the rest. As before, red herrings abound, and as before, the ending surprises.

A Dark and Twisted Tide once again involves Lacey Flint in spite of herself. After her leave of absence, she has gone back to uniform instead of working as a detective, hoping to make a gradual return to the force. But quiet time is not to be... Only Lacey could be out swimming at high tide in the Thames River (a hobby she has taken up since moving onto a houseboat), only to discover a body floating in the river wrapped carefully in white burial cloths. Soon it becomes obvious that she didn't find it by accident, that once again someone is targeting her, trying to draw her into danger. So, being Lacey, she goes.

This one, I have to say, was a little weird in spots even for me--but I enjoyed it. Two problems I have with it: First, I think it's time for Bolton to take up a new story line with regard to Lacey--not every case can relate specifically to her. Second, the long-drawn-out non-courtship of Lacey and Detective Mark Joesbury can't be prolonged beyond a point, and I think we just hit that barrier as readers.

Even so...can't wait to read the next one. Please tell me there's a next one coming!


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