Grief Encounters by Stuart Pawson

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Grief Encounters by Stuart Pawson

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A beautiful woman seems to be victimising prominent men in the area. Charlie Priest needs to find out why - and find out who murdered the nude he drew as an art student. A well-written police procedural - recommended by The Bookbag.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: November 2007
Publisher: Allison & Busby
ISBN: 978-0749080327

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DI Charlie Priest expects very little from the monthly Superintendents' meeting but he's in for a surprise. Right at the end DCS Colin Swainby makes a personal statement. Certain allegations have been made against him and whilst he has nothing to be ashamed of he is going to resign quietly and without fuss. When the local MP is photographed in a passionate embrace with a beautiful woman who is not his invalid wife he decides to depart too - but his choice is suicide. Charlie is sure that there's a connection between the two cases but working out what it is is not going to be easy - on anyone.

The battered body of a woman is found in parkland on the outskirts of Halifax, but the local police are having difficulty in identifying her. One clue jumps out to Charlie Priest though. There's a tattoo across the left buttock which says Property of the Pope and despite all the injuries Charlie knows that the victim can be none other than the nude he drew when he was a student at the Leeds College of Art, but what had happened to Magdalene in the meantime?

There are some wonderful characters in this book. Priest himself is impressive but human. As the investigating officer he plays a major part, but he doesn't dominate the book, which is plot-driven. For me the dominant character is Teri, beautiful but amoral, along with her scheming friends. They're rich and generally idle other than when they find someone to victimise. Is it just a game, or is it something more sinister? The characters are all well-drawn, three-dimensional and believable.

The plot is good. I really couldn't see how it would all work out, but despite their being plenty of red herrings along the way there's a satisfactory resolution to all the strands with some particularly neat twists towards the end - proof, if ever it were needed, that things are not always as they seem to be.

I did enjoy this book. Set in the fictional Heckley which seems to be in the Leeds Metropolitan area, it's possible to walk certain parts of the book. I know it well. Pawson lives in North Yorkshire and his knowledge of and love for the area is obvious. He captures the contrasts and contradictions of the area well, knows how often luxury is close to the less than salubrious. He's produced a series - and a character - that deserves to be better known. This is the first of his books to come my way, but I do hope that it won't be the last.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending this book to The Bookbag.

For another gritty police procedural novel set in the north of England we can recommend Savage Moon by Chris Simms.

Buy Grief Encounters by Stuart Pawson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Grief Encounters by Stuart Pawson at

Buy Grief Encounters by Stuart Pawson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Grief Encounters by Stuart Pawson at


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