Thursday, March 30, 2017

Old Bones by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

First Sentence:  There comes a point in the life of a balloon when it has lost so much air that it's taut, festive body becomes sagging, wrinkled and—well, frankly, sad.
DCI Bill Slider is decidedly unpopular at HQ due to those implicated in his last cast.  A young couple discovers a skeleton in their back garden.  It’s thought to be that of a young girl who disappeared from that garden two decades ago.  Slider’s boss, DS Porson, hope this case will be simple and will keep Slider out of harm’s way.  But does it?
Harrod-Eagles never disappoints.  Her use of language, Britishisms notwithstanding, is always a delight, including her chapter headings.  Her descriptions of people makes them immediately recognizable—“Carver was a miserable bastard, who had raised resentment to an art form, and his leaving do was appropriately cheerless.” and—“It was time that Atherton, the serial romancer, settled down.  He was tall, handsome, elegant, and irresistible to females.  Pure catnip.  He could commit sexual harassment by sitting quietly in another room.  Really, the world needed him to be taken out of circulation.”
How lovely to have the protagonist be in a marriage that has suffered its rocky patches, but that works.  There is an excellent comparison between Slider being a cop, and his wife Joanna being a professional musician.  There is also a moving and painful description of a mother learning of her daughter’s body being found years often her disappearance.  It is this ability to convey both light and dark equally well that makes CHE such a fine writer.
Slider and his team truly are a team.  They are an ensemble cast, each with their own parts to play and backgrounds about which we learn.  The case is a jigsaw puzzle, put together piece-by-piece, following the clues. But don’t make the mistake of thinking the cases are clichéd or the ending pat.  They are far from so being.
 “Old Bones” is a very well-done police procedural with excellent characters.  It is so well written; no prologue, no tricks, no portents or cliff hangers, just 256 pages of solid writing.

OLD BONES (Pol Proc-Insp. Bill Slider-England-Contemp) – Ex
      Harrod Eagles, Cynthia – 19th in series
      Severn House, Feb 2017

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