Russian Roulette by Sara Sheridan

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Russian Roulette by Sara Sheridan

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Category: Crime (Historical)
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: Pacey and atmospheric, with plenty of fifties colour – a detective story that stands out from the crowd.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: July 2018
Publisher: Constable
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781472122377

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It makes a pleasant change to have a female detective who isn't a slightly eccentric grandma, a world-weary cop with as many hang-ups, bad habits and family traumas as her male colleagues, or a slick, skinny, sharp-shooting type who lives in a loft and works out in the gym after work, boxing with (and trouncing) every big burly bloke they can throw at her. Mirabelle may have somehow got herself involved in crime-fighting, with all the requisite tropes of climbing through unguarded windows, contacts who are not one hundred per cent on the right side of the law, and a refusal to faint at the sight of blood, but she is, as everyone around her will attest, first and foremost a lady. Indeed, the first encounter we have with her in this, the sixth book in this excellent series, sees her giving a police superintendent an icy stare for his lack of manners. No matter what the life-and-death crisis, there's no reason not to be polite, is there?

This is the fifties, that mysterious decade before the high colour, freedoms and general silliness of the sixties. The war still casts its gloomy shadow of debt and rationing over Britain, and our heroine manages, even in the direst of situations, to find a moment to bewail the loss of yet another pair of stockings as she scrambles after villains or tails seedy chaps down ill-lit alleys. Casual prejudice of all kinds is wide-spread, and while we no longer see the vicious treatment Vesta received in earlier books at the hands of nice white folk, she still battles daily to find her place in a Britain wary of anyone or anything the teeniest bit different from themselves. Older readers will alternate between recognition of the attitudes and assumptions of those drab, beige-brown years, and horror that they persisted for so long.

We have now reached 1956, and Mirabelle's sometimes-lover needs her help. A man is accused of the murder of his wife, but Superintendent McGregor isn't allowed on the case because of his friendship with the suspect. The officer in charge is lazy, opting for the easiest and quickest solution to the problem, so Mirabelle agrees to do a little quiet sleuthing to root out any other possibilities. But on the way she uncovers many secrets about people she thought she knew and trusted, and some of them threaten to destroy the fragile happiness she has rebuilt since the war. Ms Sheridan has a gift for including just enough detail to convince readers that they are right there on the streets of Brighton and London with Vesta and Mirabelle, seeing the places and the people as they do. We learn that the end of hostilities did not mean that everyone quietly went back to the way they were before, and that forcing young impressionable men to maim and kill for years on end is bound to leave a residue of tension and despair that can, in some, lead to even more tragedy. War, this book says, does not end when the guns fall silent.

Mirabelle and Vesta are fascinating characters, and they deserve to be known as fully as possible. We recommend reading their adventures right from the beginning: in that way readers will understand a lot more about why Mirabelle alternates between daring and prim, and why Vesta is both calmly pragmatic about racial prejudice, and desperate to continue working at the McGuigan and McGuigan Debt Recovery agency. Bookbag particularly enjoyed Brighton Belle and the sequels London Calling, British Bulldog and Operation Goodwood. All cracking good stories, well worth reading – and we hear they're being adapted for TV!

Buy Russian Roulette by Sara Sheridan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Russian Roulette by Sara Sheridan at

Buy Russian Roulette by Sara Sheridan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Russian Roulette by Sara Sheridan at


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