CuteBadger's Reviews > Stop Dead

Stop Dead by Leigh Russell
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Di Geraldine Steele has recently moved to a new job with the Met Police in North London, which seems a world away from her previous career in Kent. She and her female DS, Sam Haley, start work on looking into the murder of a local businessman, but something doesn’t add up and soon there is a further death. There’s DNA evidence from both crimes, but who the traces belong to brings more questions than answers.

I haven’t read any of the previous Geraldine Steel books, so I think I was at a bit of a disadvantage here. I enjoyed the book and had no problem following it, but I had the sneaking suspicion that I would have got more out of it had I been more aware of Geraldine’s biography thus far.

I read a lot of crime novels and have a particular preference for UK police procedurals so I often find myself working out who and why-dunnit before the author reveals it. This book was an exception – the plot had enough twists and turns to keep me guessing for a long way into it and the guesses that I made early on didn’t pan out. The novel is written cleverly as it starts out portraying one set of reasons for the crimes it portrays, but then takes a left-turn and ends up in completely different territory. It’s very difficult to write about this kind of book, and this book in particular, as it can be all too easy to give away the plot. However, what I can say is that the portrayal of a particular class of criminal is very different in Stop Dead than it is in other crime novels. This portrayal is more chilling than more lurid examples as it underlines the banality of this type of crime.

Geraldine herself is a well-rounded character and though she has the usual personal problems that haunt fictional detectives she seems well-balanced and does not let her issues take over her working life. Her relationship with her DS is depicted with humanity and with humour. Sam and Geraldine balance each other out well – it’s good to see women portrayed so positively as professionals, and without the “all men are stupid” aspect that you find in some crime novels with female protagonists.

I also thought that the more incidental characters were portrayed well and came across as real people. Crime novels don’t often bother to draw crime victims and their families with much detail, but Stop Dead is the exception and you feel that the novel could have been about any of them, had things been different.

So, all in all I enjoyed the book and felt that it gave me a satisfying experience. I have a niggle however that I would have enjoyed it more had I read Geraldine’s previous adventures.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
May 1, 2013 – Finished Reading
May 6, 2013 – Shelved

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