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Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Darkness and The Deep. Aline Templeton. Hodder & Stoughton. (2006)


Very engaging and enjoyable crime story, a smart mix of a modern police procedural and village murder story. The loss of the Knockhaven lifeboat with the three crew is a huge blow for the small village, when it is found to have been deliberately engineered it exposes the fierce tensions and struggles that are swirling through the community. Detective Inspector Marjory Fleming is aware that drug smuggling has steadily replaced fishing as the most important local industry and has to establish if the wrecking was related to it. With tensions within the investigating team complicating matters, the mixed motives and agendas of the large, superbly drawn, cast are cleverly woven together and finally lead to a very satisfactory conclusion.
Aline Templeton makes very effective use of the context, the small community with is suffering from the terminal decline of the fishing industry and everyone knows some version of everyone else’s business. As with the best of village murder stories, the community has a multitude of motives and plausible suspects, the disentangling of which is one of the pleasures of the book. The cast are given room to breathe and grow into themselves, the reveals are cunning staged and arise very naturally from the action.
The counter pointing and overlapping of the tensions within the police investigation with the villagers is very neatly structured, Marjory Fleming's domestic troubles are plausible and expertly woven into the story. The final unravelling reveals something very nasty, it anchors the brutality of the wrecking of the lifeboat with grim strength and effectively bitter action. Great crime fiction, a pleasure.

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