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

Friday, January 11, 2013

2012/59: The Siren -- Alison Bruce

... she’d always swum in deep waters, murky in some places, fast-flowing in others, but she’d never seen the danger. That had emerged organically, as a series of developments that had rippled over one another and ultimately carried her too far out of her depth. She was no longer convinced that she could reach the shore, nor even had any idea whether the tide was in ebb or flow.
[location 2998]

I enjoyed Bruce's first Cambridge-based police procedural, Cambridge Blue, not least for its sense of place. The Siren is centred on Mill Road Cemetary, and namechecks plenty of Cambridge geography -- the Reality Checkpoint, Gwydir Street, Parkside Pools ...

DC Goodhew is investigating the disappearance of Kimberly Guyver's baby son, and the death of Kimberley's best friend Rachel. Could it be connected to the time the two girls spent working in Spain, years ago? Is the past buried (or drowned) deep enough? Or is the villain someone closer to home -- Rachel's rough-edged husband, or her boss, or a relative of Kimberley's dead fiance Nick? And where does Jay, a 'locked-in' patient in a Cambridge nursing home, fit in?

Goodhew has plenty to occupy him without the machinations and misunderstandings of his colleagues at Parkside Police Station. Kincaide, Mel and new recruit Sue Gully (perhaps the most likeable character in The Siren) all have agendas of their own, and Goodhew had better watch his step.

There are some nice extended metaphors (including the title) and some unexpected twists, which are made less predictable by clever narrative -- juxtaposition, red herrings, unattributed speech. I also like the way that Bruce portrays Kimberley and Rachel: though they may be towards the chav end of the scale, they don't think of themselves as disadvantaged, inferior or stupid, and they're not stereotyped.

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