The Edge by Clare Curzon
|The Edge by Clare Curzon|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A woman is found murdered in a barn. There are three more bodies in the manor house, but the son of the house is missing. Is he in danger or a fugitive from justice. Det Supt Mike Yeadings investigates a case with twists, turns and red herrings. It's recommended by Bookbag.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: April 2007|
|Publisher: Allison & Busby|
It was the banging of a door which awoke the farm manager in the middle of the night. A storm was raging and animal feed was stored in the barn so he knew that he had no choice but to get out of bed. Once there he found the mutilated body of a woman on an altar of hay bales. Worse was to come though. When the police try to rouse the family at the manor house they find that the husband of the dead woman, the daughter of the family and her school friend have all been murdered. The murdered woman's son is missing but it's impossible to tell whether he's a fugitive or in danger himself. Superintendent Mike Yeadings of Thames Valley Police has the gruesome task of investigating the murders.
I've been reading crime fiction all my adult life and it's not often that I discover an author of real talent whose work I don't know. Clare Curzon was a real surprise. She's said to be the inspiration of Minette Walters, but personally I think she's better than Walters if this book is anything to go by.
Surprisingly enough for a police-procedural novel, it's not the investigators who dominate the book. Here it's the plot that's all important. Yeadings himself is almost shadowy. We know a little of his home life, his wife and his disabled child but they don't intrude on the story. His investigators are only a little more substantial - the insensitive and chauvinistic Salmon, the ambitious Beaumont and Zyczynski - 'Z' to them all - with her unfortunate childhood and the added misfortune of being very good at her job. The victims, particularly the husband and wife, are the ones brought to life as their stories unfold and finally collide.
It's those not immediately involved with the murder scene who intrigue: Alma Pavitt, the housekeeper who was away in Swindon when the massacre took place, Anna Plumley, ex-RAF and grandmother to the murdered and missing children and Daniel Hoad the missing boy who might so easily have been caught in the murders. As layers of secrets are peeled away the mystery seems to become more impenetrable rather than less. Had Hoad's business partner been cooking the books? What was the significance of the locked shed in the wood and was the occult involved as the local villagers seemed to suggest? The plot twists and turns. Red herrings abound. The ending shocks.
It's not just a good story. If Clare Curzon wrote a shopping list I'm sure it would be a pleasure to read. There's an unfailing ear for dialogue and the way that real people speak and act when they're under pressure, for the casual contempt of the countryman for 'gentleman farmer' and the parallel set of laws operated by the locals. A bit of poaching is only natural, but cruelty to an animal wouldn't be tolerated. The writing is sharp with a merciful lack of the unnecessary and the pace is perfect. Despite the subject matter Curzon doesn't dwell on the gore.
I read the book over two evenings and it was a real pleasure. I found myself wanting to get back to the story to find out what happened next. There are numerous other books in the Mike Yeadings series but each can be read as a stand-alone book and there are no spoilers for earlier novels. Clare Curzon herself has written forty or so other books, many of them under pseudonyms. They're all names that I'll be happy to look out for in the future.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending this book to The Bookbag.
If this is the type of book that you enjoy then you might also like Hidden by Katy Gardner, which also looks at the search for a missing child.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Edge by Clare Curzon at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Edge by Clare Curzon at Amazon.com.
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