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Friday, April 16, 2010

Bad Moon Rising. Sheila Quigley. Arrow Books (2006)

A sharp and distinctive crime story, very well written and hugely enjoyable. In Houghton-le-Spring,an annual festival, known as the Feast is due to start and a woman is found murdered. Inspector Lorraine Hunt starts the investigation, and more women are attacked. With the influx of strangers to the town for the festival the possible suspects are numerous and then a young girl goes missing. The plot treads are developed in a very satisfactory fashion, the reveals are well staged and the conclusion is excellent.
Sheila Quigley manages a very difficult task with considerable flair and wit in this book, the crime plots are a means to explore the lives of the huge and varied cast in the book. The crimes draw the members of the cast into and out of the spotlight and they way that their lives, personal and professional overlap and interact is at the heart of this book. Sheila Quigley has an astonishing gift for conjuring up credible characters in a short space and the major players are very engaging and lively. The circumstances that the cast find themselves in are nicely revealed and as the pressure of the plot increases on them they respond in surprising and entirely believable ways. The time taken to develop the context of the town and the cast is well spent and provides considerable depth to the impact of the murders and the disappearance of the child.
Lorraine Hunt is a warm and capable leading actor, she is involved in a romantic sub-plot which just stays on the right side of stupid, she is such a vibrant and confident character that she does bring it off. There is the near obligatory struggle with an, apparently,incompetent male superior officer. Happily this is a minor part of the book and does not interfere with the story. Smart, confident crime fiction, a great read.

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