Jenny Cooper series, No 3
Simon and Shuster
2011/ ISBN 9781439157121
Legal Mystery / Coroner / UK / Contemporary
by L J Roberts
First Sentence: Jenny was drinking cordial by the stream at
the end of her overgrown garden, watching a school of tiny brown
trout flick this way and that, quick as lightning.
District Coroner Jenny Cooper is asked by Father Lucus Starr to
look into the death of Eve Donaldson, an ex-porn star who professed
to be born again and became a crusader against pornography and as
a spokesperson for the Mission Church of God. When Jenny discovers
two other recent deaths also have links to the church, she becomes
more determined to find the truth; even though there are those who
do everything they can to prevent it. In her personal life, it seems
the blank spot in the memory of her childhood may not remain blank
much longer. The question is whether Jenny will be able to deal
with what she finds there.
There are definite strengths and weaknesses here. For me, Hall’s
strength is in writing the inquest scenes. A good courtroom scene,
with its questioning and working to find the truth through verbal
exchange, can be as gripping and exciting as any chase down a dark
alley. Hall writes these scenes very well. I also find it fascinating
to learn the way in which a British court of inquiry works and its
scope of power and responsibility.
They story itself, seemed a bit cliché. The powerful politicians,
the obstructive lawyers and even the missing memories which cause
Cooper’s dependence on anti-anxiety drugs become a bit worn
out. Yes, there was a good twist at the end, but it didn’t
provide the dramatic “ah, ha” moment one would hope
as it seemed a bit convenient. I, for one, am please that the character’s
“dark secret” has finally been revealed. I should love
to see that be the end of that and Jenny grow into a stronger character.
But that’s just me.
Altogether, it is a good read with some very strong moments. I
am actually curious to see where the series goes from here, which
is a recommendation in itself.