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The Redeemed
Jenny Cooper series, No 3
M.R. Hall

Simon and Shuster
2011/ ISBN 9781439157121
Legal Mystery / Coroner / UK / Contemporary

Reviewed 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.

Reviewed 2011
© 2011