Book review: A Fatal Obsession by Faith Martin
For 25 years, Faith Martin has been thrilling her readers with a raft of superb novels'¦ written in four different genres and under four different pen names.
Perhaps best known for her smart and sassy DI Hillary Greene police series set in and around her home town of Oxford, Martin returns once more to the city of dreaming spires for a thrilling new police series starring an unlikely and excitingly original crime-fighting partnership.
Set in 1960 when male detectives were still dinosaurs and women detectives were regarded as superfluous to requirements, A Fatal Obsession pits a 19-year-old rookie policewoman and a middle-aged, old-school coroner against the force’s cynical top brass and a ruthless murderer.
The result is a thrilling whodunit, packed with Martin’s trademark labyrinthine plotting, stunning twists and turns, a delightfully eccentric detective and – without the help of modern technology – some brilliantly entertaining, good old-fashioned detective work.
Probationer WPC Trudy Loveday has got her work cut out to convince her boss, DI Harry Jennings, that she is good for something more than just making the tea. Clever, enthusiastic and always underestimated, Trudy finds it difficult even convincing her mother that she should be in the police force.
In the hope of getting her out of the way, Jennings assigns Trudy to help 57-year-old coroner Clement Ryder as he re-opens the case of Gisela Fleet-Wright, a young woman who died five years ago under what he was sure – but couldn’t prove – were suspicious circumstances.
And Clement, who is secretly fighting to prevent anyone know that he is suffering from the slow onset of Parkinson’s disease, has a formidable reputation for digging out the truth. ‘On his watch, nobody got away with anything.’
As for Trudy, she knows that this could be her chance to shine but first she must prove to Clement – known to her colleagues as ‘the old vulture’ – that she is the right woman for the job… and that means learning to recognise when people are lying.
Meanwhile, the rest of the police force are busy investigating a series of threats and murders in the local area, and Clement can’t help but feel that they are somehow all linked to the death of Gisela. As Trudy and Clement form an unlikely partnership, are they going to be the ones to solve these crimes before the murderer strikes again?
Martin’s new series gets off to a cracking start as the feisty young policewoman and the wise ‘old vulture’ get to grips with each other… and a baffling case that unfolds sans mobile, sans internet and sans forensics.
The developing relationship between the master and his new ‘pupil’ looks set to be one of the joys of this Sixties-set series as feisty, determined Trudy finds her feet and shows her mettle, Clement discovers his assistant is more than just a pretty, young face, and each of them battles their own personal hurdles.
Intriguing, clever and with bags of potential, the Ryder & Loveday mysteries look set to put Oxford on the crime map yet again!
(HQ, paperback, £12.99)