Thursday, January 21, 2016

One Under by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

First Sentence:  A suicide is a detective sergeant’s shout.
            
When is a suicide not a suicide?  When there is something much darker going on in the background and it relates to the deaths of two teenage girls about who no one really cares.  Fortunately, Bill Slider and his team do care, in spite of the pressure brought on them to drop the case.
            
If one wishes to learn British English, reading Cynthia Harrod-Eagles will start you down that road.  It is nice to have books which have not been “translated” into American.  However, CHE always makes the meaning of the idioms clear through the context. 
            
Either way, it is such a pleasure to read her for her pure mastery of language.  From chapter headings, to phrases such as “paucity of ceremony,” to her use of metaphors and malapropisms, one who loves language will find themselves smiling with pleasure at her skill. CHE’s descriptions taken the reader and puts them into the scene—“the sun was shining bleakly, but the wind was so bitter, you got no benefit from it.  …Just crossing the yard, Slider could feel surgically thin slivers of skin being flayed from his face.”
            
For those who follow the series, it’s nice that there are a couple new additions to newly-promoted to Detective Chief Inspector Bill Slider’s team.  And work as a team they do.  

Not only does the team support Slider, but it is also nice to see him have the support of his superior, even when Porson needs to provide counsel to Slider on the new perspective he must take in his new position.  But one can also appreciate that the characters have personal lives about which we learn, particularly Slider and his second, Atherton, who is an excellent balance to Slider—“He was turning into this boss.  For one of them to be over-sensitive was a misfortune; two would look like carelessness.”.  These are fully-dimensioned, realistic people, with realistic lives, families, and complications.  None are perfect, yet each is interesting.      
            
The plot is very well done.  It starts with the finding of a body which may, or may not, be a murder.  Because the victim is no one important—“Who cared for Kaylee Adams?  No one, not even her mother. …Here, in the space after the full stop, there was only Slider and his team left, to say that someone’s death couldn’t just be reduced to a budget decision.  He cared—and thank God Porson did too, for all his crustiness.”—Slider and his team must work all the harder to keep the case alive and, ultimately, they must fight the powers that be to bring it to resolution.  It is through solid police work that one very well-done connection is made, increasing the case in complexity and significance. 
            
One Under” is a solid police procedural with excellent characters and a plot which becomes delightfully twisty.  It is yet another wonderful book in a very good series.

ONE UNDER (Pol Proc-DCI Bill Slider-England-Contemp) – G+
Harrod-Eagles, Cynthia – 18th in series
Severn House – 2015

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