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Body Line
Detective Inspector Bill Slider # 13
Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Severn House
March 1, 2011/ ISBN 9780727869579
Police Procedural / England / Contemporary

Reviewed by LJ Roberts

First Sentence: “You look terrible,” Slider said as Atherton slid into the car.

Inspector Bill Slider and his team are investigating the murder of David Rogers, shot in his home at point blank range by someone with a silencer. Everything about him indicates he has considerable money, except his bank statement. Yet, the crime doesn’t appear to be one of passion or of robbery. With very little evidence, few clues, and no obvious motive, the police are having a difficult time finding the killer. Does the answer lie with one of the many women in Roger’s life, with his past or with his shadowy job? The deeper they go into the investigation, the bigger and more complex the case becomes

Reading Cynthia Harrod-Eagles is pure joy. Her love of language is evident on every page as exemplified by her dialogue, wry humor and evocative descriptions...”a well-dressed elderly couple, so tiny and immaculate they could have earned spare cash standing around on wedding cakes.” There are hunger-inspiring descriptions of food, from the grab-and-go to a particularly delicious dinner.

Each of the characters is fully-fleshed out and the relationships realistic. It is so refreshing that the protagonists have normal, stable lives and aren’t angst-driven or alcoholic, yet there is nothing cloying about the way in which they are presented.

American readers may not be familiar with some of the terms or expressions, yet these are British police who use British vernacular. The meaning of those expressions that may not be known to the American audience can easily be gleaned for their context and add to the veracity of the story.

The plot is developed bit-by-bit from a single murder to something unexpected. This is a serious crime which becomes more serious as the story progresses. At the same time, it is presented in the manner of a traditional mystery in that overt violence is left off-stage. The case is investigated by a team using procedure and following the clues; no tricks but a few very effective red herrings, no sudden revelations. At the same time, it was interesting to learn that, in Britain, one can rent a gun from a dealer for a day. It’s that information and attention to detail which greatly enhance the story.

Most of all, I come back to the use of language. There are subtle puns, visual similes and metaphors, and the most wonderful malapropos which are attributable to one of the characters. The cleverest part is that the other characters are so accustomed to them, they are commented on only once and you feel that is more for the sake of the reader.

Body Line is an excellent, traditional police procedural with wonderful characters and a very well-constructed plot that is pure pleasure to read.

Reviews of other titles in this series

Blood Sinster #8
Headlong #11
Body Lines #13
Kill My Darling #14
Hard Going #16


Reviewed 2011
© 2011