Fatal Last Words (Bob Skinner Mysteries) by Quintin Jardine
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|Fatal Last Words (Bob Skinner Mysteries) by Quintin Jardine|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The nineteenth Bob Skinner Mystery takes the annual literature festival as its prime location. It's not the best in the series with some startling coincidences but makes a reasonable read.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 448/14h11m||Date: June 2009|
|External links: Author's website|
The annual Edinburgh International Book Festival is in full swing in Charlotte Square Gardens, with a new director in place. Arriving at the Festival site early one morning she finds a text from one of the city’s premier crime authors which suggests that he’s in trouble in the authors’ yurt. When she gets the security staff to unlock the yurt she finds his body. His death seems to be connected to the fact that he’s a diabetic, but is it really natural causes? He’s also an MSP - member of the Scottish Parliament - and his death is going to cause Skinner’s new wife, Aileen Di Marco, the first minister, some problems: this puts her precarious majority at risk.
Sir James Proud has decided that it’s time to retire and in the wake of this Bob Skinner is promoted to Chief Constable - seemingly by much the same method as the Conservative party has chosen its current Prime Minister. Here it’s a case of if they’re Scottish they’ll not stand against Skinner and if they’re not Scottish they’re not welcome to apply. For a man whom everybody seems to regard as Superman he takes a rather immature attitude when his best friend and the Deputy Chief Constable of another force, Andy Martin is photographed in a compromising position with Skinner’s daughter. Incapable of separating the personal from the professional, he has it in for Martin. Double standards apply though, and Alexis Skinner is, apparently, Not To Blame. They’ve done this before though: it’s rather like the school playground writ large.
It’s a reasonable story, but for me there were rather too many coincidences and convenient occurrences. I’m currently binge-reading the entire series, but the problem with this is that some of the hamfistedness of the plotting which isn’t so obvious when you read a book a year shouts out at you when you read the books end to end. The book will read as a standalone, not least because the character tell each other what’s happened in previous stories, even when they already know the details. I’m sorry, but this time the story left me a little cold.
What I did enjoy was James Bryce’s narration. He’s narrated all the book in the series (that’s twenty six as at August 2016) and brings the stories to life, which isn’t easy when the cast mainly consists of middle-aged Scotsmen, who would all sound pretty much the same in real life. Bryce does a superb, professional job of narration.
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