Skinner's Ordeal by Quintin Jardine

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Skinner's Ordeal by Quintin Jardine

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The fifth book in the series sees Skinner facing a major plane crash on his patch and some personal demons. It's a good story and a pertinent look at what we expect of our police forces.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448/ 13h57m Date: October 1996
Publisher: Headline
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0755357741

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They'd practiced for such an event for years, but it doesn't lessen the horror when it actually happens: the Edinburgh shuttle has come down in the Lammermuirs with 205 people on board. The police are faced with gathering bodies - or parts of bodies - checking the scene for evidence and then establishing what happened. Edinburgh's deputy chief constable, Bob Skinner finds himself heading the biggest investigation of his career and the pressure is increased when it's realised that both the British and American Defence Secretaries were on the plane, along with a colleague of Skinner's.

There's a small miracle - a five-year-old boy is found alive in the cockpit of the plane - but that's all the joy that there was to be that day and for many days to come. It's evident very quickly that this wasn't 'human error' or a 'technical malfunction'. This was an explosion. There's a wealth of suspects for once, but something is going wrong for Skinner: it's not that he can't sleep, it's that he's frightened to, as he knows that he's going to be beset by nightmares. Then a random act of violence leaves him hovering between life and death. It's such a good story that I finished in less than twenty four hours.

As with all the Skinner stories - it's a darn good plot. I had various people chalked in as the perpetrator but it wasn't until the name was put in front of me that it all made sense. It's also a common factor with the series that you're not just reading to get the name of the villain: the characterisation is excellent and there's a great sense of location. They're also thought provoking and this time the fact of what we ask our police forces to face was brought home almost brutally. Someone has to establish if anyone is still alive and that means the police searching all the wreckage and the surrounding land. It's deeply unpleasant, horrifying and hardly surprising that many come to suffer (whether they will admit it or not) from post-traumatic stress disorder. Also thought-provoking is what the Security services do, usually without our knowledge.

Recently I've been listening to the Skinner books as audio downloads, all of which I've bought myself. They're narrated by James Bryce who's nobly taken on the task of telling a story which is heavily populated by middle-aged, middle class Scotsmen and somehow given them all individual voices - and that is no mean feat. As soon as I finish one, I buy the next download!

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes, which is also available as an audio download.

Quintin Jardine's Bob Skinner Novels in Chronological Order

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