Review: Val McDermid – A Place of Execution December 22, 2011 by Sarah | Edit
When I gave Val McDermid’s The Retribution a somewhat lukewarm review rec...moreReview: Val McDermid – A Place of Execution December 22, 2011 by Sarah | Edit
When I gave Val McDermid’s The Retribution a somewhat lukewarm review recently, two fellow reviewers urged me to try instead A Place of Execution a standalone novel set in Derbyshire. I think two recommendations from people whose opinions I trust is enough to convince me, so I bought the book on Amazon and started reading it as soon as it arrived. What appealed to me was the background to the book. I grew up in south Manchester in the 1980s and the Moors murders were in the not so distant past. I remember a policeman coming to my school and, as teenagers do, we were egging him on to reveal gory details about past cases. However, when it came to the terrible killings by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley this policeman, who had been involved in the original murder investigation, said it had cast a shadow over his life. And in some ways I had been affected too, as when we would drive over the bleak Saddleworth Moor you couldn’t help think about the children still buried there.
A Place of Execution has as one it’s protagonists a similar policeman who is investigating the disappearance of thirteen year old Alison Carter in 1963, only about twenty miles from the Manchester investigations. References to the Moors murders are kept to the minimum and when they do appear they are subtly made. This shows how strong a writer McDermid is, that she can create a context without labouring a point. The policeman is shown as an intelligent and conscientious man determined to bring the murderer to justice, whether or not the body of the missing girl is found. I found the blurb of the book slightly misleading, as it tells us that a modern-day journalist, Catherine Heathcote who is writing a book on the case, discovers a fresh lead. In fact this doesn’t occur until the final quarter of the book, with most of the novel concentrating on the original investigation. This isn’t a criticism, I enjoyed the main body of the book immensely, I just kept expecting the journalist to appear far earlier than she actually did.
The conclusion of the novel is both interesting and entirely believable. The writer doesn’t shirk from difficult subjects, in this case child abuse, but I think these passages were written in a straightforward and non-sensational way. The sense of place is amazing, I could recognise many of the landmarks and was truly transported to the Derbyshire of the 1960s. (less)
PD James has been a staple of my reading since I was a teenager. My introduction to her was Shroud for a Nightingale which has remained my favourite a...morePD James has been a staple of my reading since I was a teenager. My introduction to her was Shroud for a Nightingale which has remained my favourite and I have re-read it a couple of times over the years. At the age of 91, PD James could justifiably consider her writing career to have reached its conclusion, and in fact her last book The Private Patient had an end-of an-era feel to it. Therefore I was surprised (and slightly dismayed) to hear that she was going to write a murder mystery set in Pemberley, the home of Mr Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
I have to say upfront that I’m not particularly a fan of prequels, sequels or any tinkering of the classic texts (for example new Sherlock Holmes stories) by writers other than the original. I appreciate that they sell well, but surely creating new characters is part of the challenge of any writer, not utilising a ready-made ones. However, Pride and Prejudice is, after Persuasion, my favourite Austen novel and a mix of PD James and Jane Austen was just too irresistible.
As I would expect from PD James, the book was eminently readable. The book lacked a proper detective which was a shame but as we would expect from James the solving of the crime was nicely done. The writing style she adopted for this book was unusual, a cross between her own and Jane Austen’s, although predominantly Austen. I thought it a fairly faithful recreation of the feel of the original books although it did lack Austen’s sardonic gaze. Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship, for example, was slightly saccharine, whereas Austen would have added a drop of bitter lemon.
I found some of the characterisation a bit hit and miss too. Naturally the chief suspect in the murder of the dashing Denny, an officer in Pride and Prejudice, is the scoundrel Wickham. This is fair enough. But James clearly doesn’t like the amiable Colonel Fitzwilliam and his portrayal in the book as the slightly predatory suitor of Georgiana I found wrong. I also didn’t like the reference to Anne Elliot, the heroine of Austen’s Persuasion. Austen is no Balzac. Characters don’t generally cross over novels and I found the references to a different book out of place.
Nevertheless, it was a delight to revisit the beloved characters of Pride and Prejudice. I’m not sure how much the book would appeal to those unfamiliar with the original although the first chapter is in effect a precis of the original plot. Judging by the discussions on blogs and twitter it seems Jane Austen fans have taken the book to their hearts and it has proved a hit with crime fiction fans too. It was a very enjoyable read over Christmas and made me think I ought to dig out my old copy of Pride and Prejudice despite its miniscule print.
Given that I am only attempting the ‘Miles’ level of the 2012 Australian Women Writers Challenge which requires me to read six books written by Austra...moreGiven that I am only attempting the ‘Miles’ level of the 2012 Australian Women Writers Challenge which requires me to read six books written by Australian women in 2012 I might need to slow down a little. However, over New Year suffering with a cold how could I resist reading about the Spanish Flu that spread across the world in 1919 in the aftermath of the Great War? This is the second book (after Chris Womersley’s Bereft) that I’ve read that has as a background the experience of Australian soldiers returning from the war on another continent and the accompanying frenzy over the infection they may have brought with them. Here in Britain we have a fair amount of fiction set in the period but I was woefully unaware of the Australian experience until now.
The book has Eleanor Jones as its central character, a nurse who has experienced first hand the horrors of combat injuries and has returned to Melbourne to nurse the returning soldiers who are infected with the ‘Spanish Lady’ as the illness in known. Morwood has obviously done considerable research about the methods that were taken to stop the infection spreading and I thought these descriptions wonderful. Sitting by open windows, spacing seats further apart around a dinner table and wearing masks around the city seem a little inadequate by modern standards but show how fear of an epidemic infused everyday life. The mass hospitals that sprung up must have been a terrible place to work in, but of course an ideal setting for a murder.
The murder by arsenical poisoning of Brian Reddy a soldier with a cruel reputation both before and during war provides Eleanor with a means of distraction away from her haunted past. There are a number of people who may have had contact with Reddy in a previous context and as Eleanor investigates the murder, a few wrong turns are made until the culprit identified.
I liked the book a lot. It was well written and full of period detail. I would have preferred the investigation into the murder to have been a bit more complex as I guessed the culprit early on in the book which is unusual for me these days. There are multiple points of view in the narrative which was extremely confusing to begin with but as I settled down into the book grew to like. An excellent start to the 2012 AWW challenge. Maybe I need to move myself up a level if I carry on at this pace. (less)
I read Wagner’s first book Ice Moon when it came out in 2006 and loved it. It was a moving tale of a murder investigation set to the background of a m...moreI read Wagner’s first book Ice Moon when it came out in 2006 and loved it. It was a moving tale of a murder investigation set to the background of a man’s grief for his recently dead wife. It could have been a difficult subject to get right but was very well done. However the writer dropped off my radar and his follow-up book Silence, published in 2010, passed me by. I noticed recently that he had had a third book published in 2011 so I did a quick catch up over Christmas, taking in both Silence and his latest book The Winter of Lions.
The Winter of Lions features, once again, Detective Kimmo Joentaa who is investigating the murder of two men who have recently been guests on a famous TV talk show. The subject of the discussion had been the investigation of violent death and now both the forensic pathologist and the puppet maker, an expert at recreating dead bodies, have been killed. Kimmo is convinced that the key to the murder lies in the lifelike nature of the puppets and that one of the models was recognised by the killer. Once again Wagner manages to make the plot interesting without being too gruesome. The puppet maker has used photographs of violent deaths from plane and train crashes and somehow this doesn’t come across too gory in Wagner’s hands. The plot is slightly bizarre, but not so much so that it is completely unbelievable.
An interesting sub-plot was the emergence of a woman in Kimmo’s life, the enigmatic ‘Larissa’ whose background is uncertain. She is a hazy and slightly suspicious figure although Kimmo is obviously drawn to her. I imagine that she will feature heavily on later books but here she plays a supporting role, entering Kimmo’s life during the lonely Christmas period.
I had forgotten what a good writer Wagner was. His prose has a sparseness and matter of fact quality which works so well when dealing with difficult subjects. He is most definitely back on my radar now.
I read 1222 over Christmas when the wind was howling around the Derbyshire hills and I was ensconced in a warm house. It was an ideal winter read as i...more I read 1222 over Christmas when the wind was howling around the Derbyshire hills and I was ensconced in a warm house. It was an ideal winter read as it relates the story of train 601 from Oslo to Bergen that is derailed by a severe snowstorm. Trapped 1222 metres above sea-level, the train’s 269 passengers are forced to abandon their carriages and take refuge in a nearby hotel. The travellers are intrigued by an unseen passenger who is given special treatment and secreted in a separate wing of the hotel, patrolled by armed guards. The next morning, a body is found and the group turn to retired police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen to help solve the crime. But Hanne, after a shooting at work, is confined to a wheelchair and with a snowstorm increasing in strength and a killer at large, a feeling of helplessness and panic spreads amongst the passengers.
I enjoyed this book mainly for the descriptions of the landscape and snowstorm. Each chapter is headed by a small description of each level of the Beaufort Scale. For example Chapter 1 begins “Beaufort Scale 0. Calm. Wind Speed 0-1 mph. Snowflakes fall vertically, often with a side-to-side motion”. And so on. I liked this little stylistic device which reflected the increasing intensity of the storm and killings in the book. Unfortunately I didn’t think the plot quite lived up to the atmosphere. I think the problem was partly the riddle mysterious stranger being guarded. This could have been quite an interesting plot line, but when it was partly revealed towards the end, I thought the explanation quite lame. I thought the investigation by Hanne quite well plotted but didn’t really identify with the detective and am not rushing to read any more books featuring Hanne (less)
The central character is Rachel Innes, the middle-aged guardian of her orphaned nephew and niece, Halsey and Gertrude. She decides to rent a large cou...moreThe central character is Rachel Innes, the middle-aged guardian of her orphaned nephew and niece, Halsey and Gertrude. She decides to rent a large country house for the summer and on the second night of her residency a man is found murdered. As the investigation into the killing progresses the house becomes the focus of increasingly strange activities and further unexplained deaths.
I have to admit I was a completely ignorant of the writings of Mary Roberts Rinehart and read it without any preconceptions. What immediately struck me was how modern the book was. Written in 1908, in England this is the period of Sherlock Holmes and Raffles and the Victorian era has not yet been shaken off. However, in the US, Rinehart wrote this book which seems to me to be firmly set in twentieth century America. Embezzlement, revolvers in the shrubbery, young women fleeing across the country by railroad. This is a country house mystery you couldn’t have written in England, although there is a whiff of Victorian (Wilkie Collins) melodrama about the plot.
The books greatest strength is the narrative voice of Rachel Innes. She is wry and self-deprecating, well aware of her limitations and strengths. There was one aspect of the narrative that I initially found distracting which was the continual references to events in the future – identifying characters for example who will play an important role later in the book. A quick search of the internet this morning reveals that Rinehart was the inventor of the ‘had-I-but-known’ type of mystery where the first person narrator hints of impending disaster that could have been averted if they had been equipped with knowledge that is later acquired. I didn’t find it irritating in this book but can understand how it could easily become a cliché.
I liked the sense of irony and the glimpse of a world that I don’t often read about. I’m not sure how easily available the other books are but I’d definitely like to read her again.
Elizabeth George is a writer whose fortunes, I think, have waxed and waned. I’ve been reading her for years, pretty much since she published her first...moreElizabeth George is a writer whose fortunes, I think, have waxed and waned. I’ve been reading her for years, pretty much since she published her first book. Although many of her novels have a London setting I think that she has been particularly good at embracing other English settings such as Cornwall and Derbyshire. She has also created an interesting dynamic not only in the professional workings of DCI Thomas Lynley and DS Barbara Havers but also in the interweaving relationships between Lynley, his wife Helen and their friends Simon and Deborah St James. However, perhaps under pressure from her publisher or possibly to inject new characters into her books, Helen was brutally killed in With No One as Witness. Her next book was the slightly odd What Came Before her Shot Her not really a crime novel at all although it did accurately reflect the condition of London’s sink estates. Since then, her books in my opinion have been a shadow of their former selves. They haven’t been terrible, just mediocre and I personally think that she has some further great books in her.
So I succumbed to the temptation to read this, even though I have some enticing books to read waiting in my bookshelves. Believing the Lie starts promisingly by sending Lynley up to Cumbria to investigate the accidental death of a nephew of a prominent industrialist who wants convincing that there was nothing more sinister to the mishap. This was a good move because for me one of the most irritating features of the last book was the new relationship that Lynley has embarked on with his boss, Isabelle. Even more promisingly he takes with him Simon and Deborah St James, two characters that I particularly like and who have only had minor roles in more recent books. However, the subsequent investigation into the suspicious death of Ian Cresswell was disjointed and slightly surreal. There is an ongoing theme in George’s books about the inability of Simon and Deborah to have children. This was once more woven into the main narrative but seemed removed from Lynley’s own investigations. I can see that ‘children’ was the central theme of the book, focusing on the relationships between parents and their offspring and the deep-seated fractures that can tear families apart. But in my opinion there was just too much going on and there didn’t seem to be much actual crime in the book.
The redeeming feature, for me, was Barbara Havers in London carrying out her own investigations. She is, as always an appealing character and her relationship with her neighbour Azhar, again focusing on the issue of children was at least very moving. This wasn’t a terrible book. It kept me going over some severe turbulence as I was flying across the Alps yesterday. But I think Elizabeth George needs to strip back her writing and get back to basics.
This is the third Australian crime novel I’ve read this year and probably my favourite. I read Adrian Hyland’s Diamond Dove when it first came out in...moreThis is the third Australian crime novel I’ve read this year and probably my favourite. I read Adrian Hyland’s Diamond Dove when it first came out in 2007 and loved it but then promptly forgot about the author. A combination of taking part in the Australian Women Writers Challenge and therefore having Australian fiction on my radar and Maxine at Petrona hinting at the quality of Hyland’s latest book, the non fiction Kinglake-350 prompted me to read Gunshot Road, the second Emily Tempest mystery. Hyland seems to have made quite an impact in the UK. My local library had a few copies of both of his books and they seem to have been borrowed regularly. And it’s easy to see why. Hyland’s books are a great read.
Gunshot Road has Emily Tempest who is half Aborigine working as an Aboriginal Community Police Officer in the outback town of Bluebush. Although most of her work involves dealing with the fights between the town’s miners and meatworkers the death of an old friend, the geologist Doc, has her trying to extricate his friend Wireless from taking the blame.
Like Diamond Dove, the book’s greatest asset is the wonderful character of Emily Tempest. As I was reading the book, I kept thinking what a masculine character Hyland has made her. Her attitude to drinking, relationships and policing all had a male feel, far more than I get from other feisty heroines such as Kinsey Millhone or VI Warshawshi. But my theory proved to be a big mistake because the rough justice meted out in the Australian desert is particularly vicious for women, as Emily finds out for herself.
The language of the book is just wonderful. I loved the Aussie dialect and thought some of the turns of phrases really wonderful. There’s little room for sentimentality in Hyland’s writing, despite the evocative descriptions of the desert and this casualness really made the narrative move at a pace and with a wry humour. There is a great sense of place, despite the fact that I really don’t know anything about the Northern Territories where the book is set, it didn’t seem to matter. I felt part of the whole rough community and could see the person that you would need to be to survive in such a place, where racism and drug and alcohol fuelled violence is endemic. It is a really wonderful book and I would love now to read Kinglake-350 but is seems to have disappeared from the UK Amazon site. Any ideas where it has gone? (less)
V is for Vengeance is set as usual in the fictional town of Santa Teresa. The book starts with the killing of a young college student who borrows mone...moreV is for Vengeance is set as usual in the fictional town of Santa Teresa. The book starts with the killing of a young college student who borrows money from Lorenzo Dante, head of a family steeped in organised crime, and then suffers heavy losses at a poker table. The relevance of this segment isn’t revealed until much later in the book. The action shifts to Kinsey Millhone who helps apprehend a woman shoplifter who then kills herself the following day. Kinsey is perplexed by the disproportionate reaction to what is a minor misdemeanor and her investigations begin when the shoplifter’s fiancée hires Kinsey to look into the suicide. In a parallel plot, Lorenzo Dante begins to look at way of getting out of the family business and away from his violent younger brother. When he encounters the glamorous Nora who is saddled with an unfaithful husband it seems their mutual desires might coincide.
I thought the investigation into the suicide of the shoplifter Audrey Vance absolutely fascinating. I’ve always associated shoplifting with schoolchildren and minor celebrities and had absolutely no idea that it was such big business and comes under the auspices of organised crime. The book is a mine of interesting information about this, such as the fact that when in a small shop the salesperson greets you it is often a way of deterring thieves who shy away from any personal contact. And I thought they were just being nice. The cutting off of tags around a kitchen table and the moving around of the stolen items was really fascinating and it seems that far more goods are stolen than shoplifters prosecuted.
Kinsey is her wonderful self and devotees of the series will need no summary of her virtues. All I will say is that once more I’m reminded of how influential the character of Kinsey Millhone has been on scores of later female detectives. Her character predates Kay Scarpetta and Barbara Havers although not, interestingly WI Warshawski who is was created virtually at the same time. The lovely Henry appears only briefly and I hope Grafton is saving him up for a larger part in her next book.
The only part of the book I had mixed feelings about was the Lorenzo Dante/Nora relationship. I loved Nora, she reminded me of those women you find in the novels of Jonathan Frantzen and Jeffrey Eugenides. Glamorous women whose polished appearance hides fractured marriages and unsavoury pasts. It was Lorenzo Dante I had a problem with. He’s just too nice for a Mafia boss and I felt the evil of the whole enterprise was glossed over.
But this is a minor complaint. I thought it was a better book than her last U is for Undertow and I felt Kinsey was back in her metier in a case embracing the underbelly of urban life. (less)
Many of us have a day dream where we change our appearance and see if those that we are close to are able to recognise us. What will be the feature th...moreMany of us have a day dream where we change our appearance and see if those that we are close to are able to recognise us. What will be the feature that we are unable to hide? Our eyes? Body shape? It is, of course, also a well used device in crime fiction with both criminals disguising their true identity and deceiving their nearest and dearest (Agatha Christie’s A Murder is Announced) and also victims using disguise to avoid detection (Lisbeth Salander in Steig Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy). Occasionally, the detective has to undertake this too – Sherlock Holmes of course revelling in disguise and trickery.
In this book by US author Holly Roth, who was writing in the 1950s and 1960s, Jimmy Kennemore of the US Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps is both victim and investigator when a routine investigation into a missing deserter goes horribly wrong. His innocent enquiries at a seedy photographic studio result in him trussed up in a garage and only narrowly surviving an explosion. He crawls to the apartment of a family friend, Doc, who patches him up and nurses him back to health.
When Jimmy looks in the mirror his boyish good looks have disappeared and he now looks like a much older man with deep grooves down the side of his face and his red hair turned white. This is where the fun starts. I enjoyed reading of Jimmy embracing his new identity, testing it out on his girlfriend Rita and his astonishment at how people react to his more macho appearance. Equally enjoyable is Jimmy’s investigations into the men who nearly killed him. His revisits to the shop and attempts to dupe his way into the gang were gripping passages full of tension. There is a Jack Reacher/Da Vinci Code feel to the narrative, Jimmy goes from one scrape to the next but his natural bravado and military training help him to brazen out his situations.
The denouement was slighty disappointing, I don’t think I’m giving too much away to say it had something to do with Communists and H Bombs, a sign of the times I suppose when the book was written in 1957. It all seemed to be wrapped up on the last two pages so I had a slightly dazed feeling after finishing it. Given the preceding action, a little more explanation would have been welcome. It provided though a real slice of New York’s mean streets, contrasted nicely with Doc’s Second Avenue lifestyle. (less)
I thought The Final Murder an enjoyable read. The plot was good - a killer is targeting famous people in Oslo and leaving behind various disturbing sy...moreI thought The Final Murder an enjoyable read. The plot was good - a killer is targeting famous people in Oslo and leaving behind various disturbing symbols. The book opens with the murder of a talk-show host who is found with her tongue removed from her body and left on her desk, cleaved in two. It’s an interesting “serial killer” plot, and the passages interspersed in the book taking the killer’s point of view were well done and satisfactorily oblique.
I also liked the main detective, Superintendent Adam Stubo, already a grandfather with a new baby of his own. I suspect the fact that I hadn’t read Anne Holt’s earlier book Punishment might have been a slight disadvantage as I think his partner Johanne Vik had already featured in this book. I found it a bit hard to believe that a top policeman happened to have a partner who had just had a baby, who was also a former FBI profiler and now a psychologist. It’s all perfectly possible it’s just without any introduction it seemed a bit far-fetched. But I liked the plotting very much and thought it an excellent read. The ending was a bit frustrating for reasons I can’t say without spoiling the plot but I suppose, as a lawyer and former Minister of Justice, Anne Holt is aware that not all crimes can be resolved neatly. (less)
In many ways, this book has many of the characteristics that I associate with the Scandinavain crime fiction genre. It is set in one of the coldest ev...more In many ways, this book has many of the characteristics that I associate with the Scandinavain crime fiction genre. It is set in one of the coldest ever Swedish winters and police detective Malin Fors is called to the countryside outside the town of Linköping where a man is found mutilated and hanging from a tree in the frozen wastes. Initial investigations suggest that it could be connected the ancient practice of a ‘midwinter sacrifice’, making offerings to the gods in return for happiness. However, the murdered man Bengt Andersson was a target for teenage bullies and his complicated family history may have a role in the crime.
I thought that the book was very well written. It is narrated in the present tense, something I personally don’t mind but not, I know, to everyone’s taste. The book started a little slowly but once it got going I did find it hard to put down. I liked the choppy nature of the narrative as the reader is moved around different characters. I also thought the characterisation was excellent, with minor characters such as Malin’s partner Zeke Martinsson and the journalist Daniel Högfeldt made interesting. He also writes well about the mother/daughter relationship although Malin does seem incredibly liberal in her attitudes.
What didn’t I like about the book? The parts written from the point of view of the dead Bengt Andersson were well written but I’ve come across a few books recently with passages incorporating the voice of the dead victim, most recently Åsa Larsson Until Thy Wrath be Past. The trouble is it rarely accords with what I would consider it like to be dead. I don’t find it distasteful, just extraneous I suppose to the narrative. The ending also left one particular plot strand without resolution. I found this disappointing mainly because the crime had been so horrific and I genuinely wanted to know the reason behind that particular savagery. It’s unlikely to reappear in future books and I felt slightly cheated by the fact it remained unsolved, particularly as it involved a violent crime on a woman.
But I have to say the book caught me up in its narrative and it became impossible to put it down. (less)
Sometimes you come to a book with absolutely no expectations whatsoever. I picked up City of the Dead by Sara Gran in a second-hand book stall and it...moreSometimes you come to a book with absolutely no expectations whatsoever. I picked up City of the Dead by Sara Gran in a second-hand book stall and it sat on a shelf for a couple of weeks. It crept up to the top of my reading pile because I fancied something by an American author, as my recent reading has been skewed towards Scandinavian crime fiction. After reading the first chapter it was clear I’d stumbled upon something good.
The plot involves private investigator Claire DeWitt who has been called in to investigate the disappearance of New Orleans Assistant District Attorney, Vic Willing. He disappeared when Hurricane Katrina hit the city and his nephew initially thinks that he died in the storm. But witnesses emerge who remember seeing Willing in the aftermath of the hurricane and Claire is hired to find out the truth.
The plot isn’t unique in subject matter as plenty of crime fiction involves the hunt for the missing. What makes this book stand out is the creation of the character of Claire DeWitt and the juxtaposition between the slightly kooky characterisation and the bleak realities of New Orleans life. Claire lived in New Orleans years ago and trained under the famous detective Constance Darling. After Constance was shot in a restaurant hold-up, Claire became in her words “the best detective in the world”. The back-story to Claire is well-developed. She was part of a gang of three girls who tattooed their entwined initials onto their wrists. However one night one of the three girls, Tracy, disappears, presumably one of the city’s ‘lost’. Fragments of Claire’s dreams about Tracy intersperse the book and are written in a lovely ethereal style.
Claire DeWitt has the touch of the Sherlock Holmes about her. She uses disguises, picks through possessions for seemingly meaningless clues and uses drugs for both recreation and to free her mind to investigate the case. She is a devotee of Jacque Silette’s Détection, a fictional detection manual which she dips into and quotes with evangelical fervour. But unlike Holmes, there is a delusional/odd-ball feel to her character. Her disguise fails to camouflage, her drug taking ends only with catatonia and a brush with death. But the case is resolved and Gran writes strongly about the violence that Katrina leaves in its wake. New Orleans is portrayed as a city inured to death and where murder is only casually investigated, if at all.
It’s great to pick up a book and discover a world of delights. City of the Dead is obviously the first book in a series, with so much of Claire de Witt’s life remaining unresolved at the end. Hopefully the next in the series will be equally strong. (less)