Reviewed by Kate Garrett
Crime is a popular genre, but from the sea of traditional police detectives available, the only super sleuths I’ve caught and kept in the past haven’t been police detectives at all: Dr Kay Scarpetta (Patricia Cornwell) and Rev Merrily Watkins (Phil Rickman). I like a nice murder – who doesn’t? – but the mystery better be untangled by badass women in unusual jobs. You can keep your macho police inspectors and their man shenanigans, okay?
Enter Inspector Tom Chaudhuri, the London detective sent to uncover the killer in Deadly Nevergreen. Chaudhuri travels to the Isle of Wight after multiple murders – a stabbing in London and a beating on the island itself – happen within two days of each other, and appear to be connected. Are they? Well. No spoilers. As for Chaudhuri, he’s not bad as traditional detectives go: tough, but kind, charming, loyal to his ageing father, loves animals – though as a personal aside, I’m not impressed by “vegetarians” eating fish, which he does (so he’s not a vegetarian) – and has a subtle sensitive side.
The other characters populating this book are mostly believable: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the few who are supposed to be astonishingly good looking. It is one of the latter, Abigail Benson, who perhaps isn’t as convincing as some of the others. She comes across a little too typical in her back story – the beautiful damsel in distress – and she has the potential to be a more dynamic character.
As for the “bad” and the “ugly” characters, there are so many you quickly find yourself wondering “Who gets it?”, never mind “Whodunnit?” Everyone is a potential corpse thanks to the foundation of intrigue, the first layer of which is laid in an unlikely place – a spiritualist meeting. Deadly Nevergreen grabs you by the balls, whether you have any or not. The narrative clips along at a decent pace, with well-timed slick twists, and introduces the reader to disturbing crimes from long before the murders took place.
The reader is left unsure over one of the suspects’ involvement in the murders, but in spite of this and the other issues mentioned in this review, Deadly Nevergreen is a great read. Recommend for people who already love crime novels. Not at all suitable for the faint-of-heart or squeamish. Perfect for summer holidays, but you might want to watch your step if your destination is London or the Isle of Wight.
Publisher Michele at Prosochi, an imprint of Endaxi Press, is offering two signed paperback copies of Deadly Nevergreen to readers in the UK and two coupons – redeemable at Smashwords – for the free ebook version to readers outside the UK. To put your name into the Pankhearst Hat for one or other of these excellent free prizes, please comment below this review and tell us if you are in the UK or “Elsewhere”.