Peter Hugo Hamilton has been found dead in a Peak District
cave. His face is covered with scratches and carved into the
stone wall is an image of the grim reaper and initials PHH.
This might not be so bizarre if the carving hadn’t been
done over a hundred years earlier. DI Meg Dalton is assigned
to the case, and it soon becomes obvious that it is going
to be anything other than suicide, or easy to solve.
I confess to particularly enjoying the type of police procedural
that involves strange things in the past being linked with
the present. Kate Ellis, Elly Griffiths and now Roz Watkins
have all put their own stamp on this sub-genre. Prepare for
a somewhat darker twist with this series debut, which is sure
to keep you on the edge of your seat as you eagerly turn the
pages to discover what happens next.
What is the mysterious
curse that is said to affect anybody living in Peter Hamilton’s
clifftop home? What was he doing before he died to upset his
volatile partners, and what are they hiding? The flyleaf is
deliberately evasive about what the book is actually about
because to say any more would spoil the story. All I can say
is that it covers some controversial and very topical issues,
is very involving and won’t take long to read because
it is so exciting.
The only alloy
in this is the use of cliché. Meg comes across as being
more rookie constable than inspector and certainly has more
than her fair share of problems. She is the typical tortured
detective with a Past, who, together with the sexist Neanderthal
Craig and sensitive ex-Sikh Jai, appears rather too typical
of the casts of a lot of police TV series. She tells the story
in her own words, a device which is not easy to do well but
which this author manages to carry off excellently. It will
be very interesting to see what happens next in the second
book, Dead Man’s Daughter, an excerpt of which can be
read at the back of the book. Recommended as a new series
to watch out for.