Sausage Hall by Christina James

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Sausage Hall by Christina James

Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: A police procedural with a depth and some mischievous twists that go beyond the average procedural. Yes, DI Tim Yates is back in a third outing, investigating skeletons in the cellar and a body in the woods; great stuff that just gets better.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: November 2014
Publisher: Salt Publishing
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1907773822

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Kevan de Vries, food processing magnate and grandson of a Dutch immigrant to Lincolnshire, is trying to help his terminally ill wife Joanne relax on an exotic holiday. Unfortunately the news he receives from home is less than relaxing: a random break-in committed by local opportunistic youths has uncovered a batch of counterfeit passports. Kevan travels back to the UK to answer questions but it gets worse. Skeletal remains are found in his cellar followed by a discovery elsewhere of an all too fresh employee's dead body. This is bread and butter to DI Tim Yates of the Lincolnshire Constabulary but it's another complication in Kevan's all too complicated life.

Lincolnshire born Christina James may divide her time between life as a bookseller, researcher and teacher but it's a fourth profession – crime writer – that's beginning to bring her to prominence. Her ample style and weighty tomes appear to be a bit Marmite to some, but she seems to have taken previous criticisms on board it all flows realistically this time out, including her enjoyable layering of stories and events.

Indeed Christina is never happier than when she's layering mystery on mystery. Even only 100 pages before the end new revelations increase our puzzlement rather than solve it – in a good way. The difficult thing is to be able to talk about it without spoilers, but I'll have a go.

Christina cleverly puts us in two places; not only dogging the steps of the police's third person narrative as they continue their enquiries, we're also party to the inner thoughts and workings of Kevan in first person vignettes of which the police are unaware. His innocence becomes clear early on (so no spoiler there) but his viewpoint is fascinating and used to raise as many questions as it answers. He may not be totally above board, but we plump and empathise with him as he tries to shield a wife he's as much in fear of as in love with.

In good whodunit style, we're offered a selection of possible perpetrators and conspirators from Mrs Brigges, the de Vries' housekeeper to the mysterious Tony Sentence, to the touchy family lawyer Jean Rook. (Talking of whom, it would be lovely to believe that the lawyers' name is a nod to the gritty, well respected, loved late Fleet Street journalist.)

Meanwhile Tim Yates is going to be a father, which comes in handy. While Katrin, his wife, is off with morning sickness, he finds a side investigation to keep her occupied along with the equally (but differently) ill side kick DC Juliet Armstrong. This gives Christina the opportunity to explore a sub-plot featuring Cecil Rhodes (yes, Rhodesia Cecil) as the past rises up to affect the present.

Actually congratulations are in order because, even when side-lining Yates' DC, Christina ensures Juliet isn't exactly incapacitated by the most obvious ailment. It also has another purpose. Her incapacity brings someone else into her life whom I'm sure we'll meet again, for good or ill.

Sausage Hall may sound like a flippant title, but this is a seriously good murder mystery in which the final twist doesn't appear till the final page, eliciting a devilish giggle and a pleasing glow as I closed the book. There again, maybe I'm just warped?

(Thank you, Salt Publishing, for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: If you'd like more Christina James, try Almost Love. If you like a good crime novel but would like to try someone else, then we recommend Christine Falls by Benjamin Black.

Buy Sausage Hall by Christina James at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sausage Hall by Christina James at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Sausage Hall by Christina James at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sausage Hall by Christina James at Amazon.com.


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