Dead in the Water by Veronyca Bates

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Dead in the Water by Veronyca Bates

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: This is one of those rather cosy who-dunnits. Middle-aged spinsters, glamorous bitches and tired but honest cops keep the pot - and the plot - boiling away nicely in this book.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: July 2010
Publisher: Robert Hale Ltd
ISBN: 978-0709090779

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The novel opens with a couple of fishermen enjoying their hobby ... until they fish out of the water a dead body. The body of a middle-aged woman. Enter a couple of rather endearing, local policemen intent on getting to the bottom of it all. The plot develops nicely. We discover that the dead woman had two names, two identities. Why? It seems to make the job of the police twice as difficult. And Bates' conversational and over-the-garden-fence style is engaging and very easy to read. I romped through the chapters, no problem. The dead woman is becoming more of a mystery as time goes on. Her past is delved into and looked over with a fine-tooth comb and the bobby-dazzler question What makes a girl of nineteen marry a man of sixty? is soon asked. A good section of the book is spent trying to answer that question. The obvious answer would appear to be - money. But is it in this case? And all sorts of puzzling questions are thrown up left, right and centre.

Other characters appear: a step-daughter, a dead step-son to name but two. And it soon appears that initially, several seemingly innocent people are now not so innocent. Far from it. They have issues. They tell lies to the police when questioned. All entertaining stuff and not really to be taken too seriously. It's not exactly taxing.

The theme of water - which includes the title and also the front cover illustration - is a recurring and important piece of the jig-saw. But are the local police up to putting all the pieces together in the right order? They think they've cracked it ... then another dead body is discovered.

The reader is given the background on several of the key characters. We see unhappy childhoods, tragic events, missed opportunities all seething under the surface. The professional relationship between two particular members of the murder squad (such as it is) makes for credible and also entertaining reading. There's a nice line in dead-pan humour mixed with sarcasm. When it spills over into the interviewing room towards the end of the novel, it's really quite hilarious, in parts. Compare all this knock-about humour to the sheer sadness and emptiness of some characters' lives and it makes for a good comparison. Bates' has a nice mix of personalities in this book.

I've read several books with this publishing house recently and most are in the crime genre and there is a bit of a pattern. Enjoyable fiction which is not too deep. This novel fits that pattern too but I enjoyed it more, it's a little above average in that respect. The plot is good, with many twists to keep the reader guessing and I found the characters both likeable and engaging. I really enjoyed this book, much to my initial surprise. An ideal book to while away a lazy weekend.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag. We also have a review of Dead on Time by Veronyca Bates.

If this book appeals then you might like to try The Herring In The Library by L C Tyler.

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Buy Dead in the Water by Veronyca Bates at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dead in the Water by Veronyca Bates at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Dead in the Water by Veronyca Bates at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dead in the Water by Veronyca Bates at


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