Cold Pursuit by Judith Cutler

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Cold Pursuit by Judith Cutler

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Investigations into happy-slappings and minor assaults fall into Chief Superintendent Fran Harman's lap when she has to delay her retirement. A well-crafted, enjoyable book which happily lacks a dead body. Or two.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: January 2008
Publisher: Allison & Busby
ISBN: 978-0749080723

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Chief Superintendent Fran Harman was on the verge of retirement when a colleague wound up in intensive care. It wasn't in her nature to be other than helpful so she agreed to stay on and take over the investigations into a series of happy-slappings and minor assaults. It's the stuff of which the media is fond, but one reporter does seem to have a very personal interest in the case.

I love crime fiction but I do occasionally tire of the fact that authors paint a picture of serial killers stalking our streets and dead bodies being so profuse that you're likely to trip over them. Life isn't like that. Despite what the media would have us think, serial killers are rare and murders other than in a domestic situation are uncommon. It was something of a relief to read a book which concentrates on the sort of crime which does happen and which the police have to deal with on a daily basis.

Even pleasanter was the discovery of an investigating officer apparently on good terms with his or her superiors. I'm constantly amazed at the number of police officers who apparently solve every case that comes their way but who are a burden to their superiors. Well, Fran Harman's on very good terms with the Chief Constable, but just about living with her immediate superior, the ACC (Crime), which does lead to some occasional professional difficulties. It's refreshing to find a middle-aged woman who has an active and satisfying sex life too and you get the feeling that Fran isn't going to settle for anything less than the best. She's feisty but rather overtaken by a late-blossoming love.

It was good not to read of the hullabaloo of a murder enquiry and good to see what are often the minor crimes given some of the limelight. Attacking someone so that the incident can be recorded on a mobile phone and shown to all your mates is not amusing - it's criminal, even if you do go to a good school. Stalking might not seem important - even to the victim at first - but it can get out of hand and is taken seriously by the police even in the early, seemingly innocent stages. Bullying via the internet is still bullying - and not a bit of fun.

Lack of a dead body might suggest that the book is less than exciting, but there's good dramatic tension and pace throughout. I read it in less than a day (when I really had other things that I should have been doing) because I wanted to see how it would all be resolved and Judith Cutler is a name that I'll be looking out for in the future. It was a good, satisfying read.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending this book to the Bookbag.

Feisty women police officers are definitely not ten a penny. Lorraine Hunt in Sheila Quigley's Every Breath You Take has all the right attributes but the book is not as well written as Cold Pursuit. You might also appreciate Harriet Martens in H R F Keating's Rules, Regs and Rotten Eggs.

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