Funeral Note: A Bob Skinner Mystery by Quintin Jardine

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Funeral Note: A Bob Skinner Mystery by Quintin Jardine

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: It's number twenty two in the series and it's written in a format which really shouldn't work. Discount both points as it's brilliant but beware of the very open ending. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: May 2012
Publisher: Headline
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0755356966

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When a man's body was exhumed from a shallow grave in Edinburgh the initial reaction was that it was murder - I mean, why else would you dispose of the body in that way? But then, why would you bury it with obvious care and tell the police where it's buried? When the postmortem showed that the man had died from natural causes it seemed that it was case closed - but Chief Constable Bob Skinner didn't always think in straight lines. He had more pressing problems to deal with though. It seemed obvious that an Inspector on his force was corrupt and on the personal front it looked as though his marriage was heading for the rocks.

With police procedurals there are certain points which come under the heading of 'everyone knows' and the first of these is that we look in on the great investigator through the mist of his problems with authority, addiction to alcohol or other difficulties and admire that there's always a result in the cases he takes on and bemoan the fact that there's never a promotion in sight. Well Bob Skinner is the top man here - and when you look back on the twenty years of this series he's always been in the top ranks.

The second point is that the story is narrated in the third person. Quintin Jardine stuck his head above the parapet with Grievous Angel which was narrated in the first person. But this time he's gone a step further and each of the main characters narrates his or her part of the story in the first person. Some make a fleeting visit to the podium whilst others return on several occasions. It can't work, surely? It shouldn't work - but it does. And it works so well that I really can't understand why it isn't standard practice.

If Skinner has a weakness it is, as one character points out, that he's a serial marrier. His first wife died and then his second marriage ended in divorce with his ex-wife going back to the USA. Skinner then married a prominent politician and the realtionship seemed steady if not earth-shattering until his wife expected him to fall in with her proposed legislation for a unified Scottish police force despite knowing that it was completely against his pronciples. This isn't a rift in the marriage - it's the Grand Canyon running through it. Add to that the fact that his ex-wife, Dr Sarah Grace, has returned to Edinburgh and she and Skinner have to keep a professional relationship going and a reasonable face on their private relationship for the sake of their children. It's not easy for Skinner.

It's many, many years since I last read a Bob Skinner book and the characters were but a faint memory, so you could say that I read this as a stand alone and it worked suprisingly well. There's just enough information given about characters to suggest the nature of their back story but not so much that established readers are going to feel patronised. I'm seriously tempted to go back and pick up some of the earlier books - but I am desperate to know when the next book in the series is published. I wouldn't exactly call the ending a cliff hanger - but it does leave at least one very open question.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

You can't think of Edinburgh and detective fiction without thinking of Rebus, but there are other detectives there. You might like to ty The Road to Hell: An Alice Rice Mystery by Gillian Galbraith.

Quintin Jardine's Bob Skinner Novels in Chronological Order

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