Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Blood Never Dies by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

First Sentence:  Exsanguination was the word Slider found wandering around his mind.
When is a suicide not a suicide?  When it’s a murder.  When the details are just slightly off.  When is a murder particularly hard to solve?  When you don’t know the identity of the victim.  It’s even harder when you find a name but realize it’s false.  For DI Bill Slider and his team, the more they dig, the more murders occur, and the more obscure becomes the motive behind it all. 
Cynthia Harrod-Eagles has a wonderfully descriptive style.  Her writing, and dialogue, is natural, sprinkled with wry humor, and occasional colloquialisms.  She is very British, so occasionally some of her references of phrases might not be understood by Americans.  It doesn’t matter; look them up and move on.  It is well worth it and you learn something along the way.         
 Her writing can make you stop and consider…”Death was so mysterious, Slider thought, not for the first time.  The difference between a human being and a dead body was so profound, it always amazed him that made the difference, the vital spark, could disappear so instantaneously and completely.”…”He looked at her. ‘Animals just follow instinct.  It’s only humans who perform calculated acts of vileness.’”
It is particularly appealing that, although Bill Slider is the protagonist, it is truly an ensemble case.  Everyone has an important role to play.  I also appreciate that Harrod-Eagles shows the harsh and plainly unfair reality of one’s career being limited by either not having the “right” look or manner.  “But scrawny frog-eyed Hollis, with his despairing hair and feather-duster moustache…made Peter Lorre look like a model from a knitwear catalogue. …He was a damn good policeman, which was all that counted to Slider—though not, of course, with the media-obsessed top bods in the Job, who would never promote Colin Hollis to any position that might get him on camera.”  Slider is misfit in his own way.  He doesn’t judge others but has a dogged determination to find the truth; he believes in fighting for right and justice.
What was missing was the some of the sparkle that makes this, for me, such a must-read series.  There wasn’t as much interaction between Slider and his wife, Joanna, his father and Atherton, to which one always looks forward.  Even the lovely and malaprop-plagued D.S. Porson—“A case of walking your chickens before they can run…” was little less apparent than in past stories.   
It’s the excellent plotting that makes this such a compelling read.  You feel the team’s frustration knowing the clues are leading somewhere, but having no idea where.  You become part of the team, looking for the answers, rather than stand outside the story. 
 “Blood Never Dies” is a solid police procedural, with a strong plot and characters you want to visit again and again.    

BLOOD NEVER DIES (Pol Prod-DI Bill Slider-England-Contemp) – G+
Harrod,Eagles, Cynthia – 15th in series
Severn House, 2012
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