Grievous Angel by Quintin Jardine

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Grievous Angel by Quintin Jardine

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: Prickly Bob Skinner has just been promoted within the police force in Edinburgh. His life becomes even more frazzled and complicated as he juggles being a single dad, two women in the romance department oh, and a nasty murder or two to solve.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: June 2011
Publisher: Headline
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0755356935

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I recently read (and reviewed) Jardine's The Loner and found it an engaging work of fiction, so I was looking forward to dipping into my first Bob Skinner Mystery. I think the front cover alone may very well tempt readers with its attention-grabbing graphics which shouts out 'read me'.

We first meet up with Bob in his middle years as he thinks back on his life, both private and professional. He's on wife number three - or it could be number four - and the horrendous scenes he's had to deal with over the years have certainly left their mark. I would say that he doesn't suffer fools gladly and there also seems to have been some sort of dark cloud over him - black moods or even depression perhaps. And just as with The Loner Jardine's style is to pack in a helleva lot of information and background data on most of his characters. I still think some of this info is irrelevant and tends to slow up the plot, especially right at the beginning when most of us want to get stuck in, if you get my drift. But, if and when you pass this section and get into the story 'proper' then its a nice, smooth rhythm.

The chosen location is in and around the beautiful city of Edinburgh (and yes, I'm reminded here of Rankin) but the crimes Skinner is sent to investigate with his team are ugly and often bloody. We back-track fifteen years or so to a younger Skinner. A man who is a widower trying to bring up a teenage daughter on his own. His unsocial hours dictate that he has some help at home, if only to cook his daughter an evening meal. She's bright and resilient and seems older than her years.

Jardine likes to give his readers the low-down on his characters time and time again. He packs in plenty of domestic data and narrative as well as police procedures so that the whole mix, the whole book has a nice balance to it which I enjoyed and appreciated. This is not all about blood and gore. I liked Jardine's take on the current crime novel and would happily read more.

As the story develops, there's nasty business afoot on several fronts. Someone seems to have it in for the gay population in city centre bars and there's also a small matter of the local police being called to investigate the death of a man found in a dis-used local swimming baths in the city. There are numerous twists and turns to the main plot to keep most readers happy, I would think. And there are also a number of minor characters introduced along the way. There's a nice touch of the local dialect here and there and hot tourist spots such as Edinburgh Castle get a passing mention - and why not. It all helps to conjure up a mental picture in the reader's mind and it worked for me.

Jardine also does a very effective line in natural and flowing dialogue and conversation. There's also humour - wry humour. For example, when Skinner's parked his rather smart vehicle in a rough area of the city and spots a gang of young kids hanging around, he decides to give the ringleader a 'pep' talk laced with just enough of a verbal warning. When his colleague asks what all that was about, he replies Personnel Management. I loved that bit.

Jardine even covers Skinner's love life. He's been celibate (too much information perhaps?) for donkeys' years and then, all of a sudden and perhaps a tad improbably, along comes not one, but two gorgeous women. Overall, an engrossing and lively story, engagingly told. Recommended.

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

If this book appeals then try The Loner also by Quintin Jardine.

Quintin Jardine's Bob Skinner Novels in Chronological Order

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