No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Monday, June 08, 2009

#41: Cambridge Blue -- Alison Bruce

First in a new series of crime novels set in Cambridge -- a realistically grim and dirty Cambridge rather than the pretty college town As Seen On TV.

DC Gary Goodhew is the new boy at Parkside police station. His boss, DCI Marks, doesn't approve of Goodhew's methods -- okay, he's brilliant and intuitive but not so much the team player. And Goodhew's colleage Kincaide is old school, old-fashioned and morally rather grubby.

Goodhew is first on the scene when a corpse is found on the common. The novel follows his unravelling of the tangled strands of Lorna Spence's life: Richard the boyfriend who's also her boss, Richard's smart sister Alice, Richard's other sister Jackie, Lorna's glossy bitchy friend Victoria ...

It all interconnects neatly and unprettily (Bruce doesn't pull punches either in autopsy rooms or in human nature) and though I was pretty sure I knew who the murderer was by about page 130, I kept second-guessing myself -- a sign of a suspenseful mystery.

There are a few annoyances. The viewpoint slips occasionally, so we get authorial observation about Alice's fashion sense in the middle of someone else's viewpoint. The prose slipped by me, except for the occasional clunky dialogue. And disguising an individual's gender by avoiding pronouns is seldom effective and almost always irritating: plus, if anything, it drew my attention in a way that less mystery wouldn't have.

I did enjoy reading this, though, and the portrayal of real-world Cambridge -- plus outlying villages, M11 speed cameras, cheery cyclists and riverside cafes -- is nicely done.

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