Avenging the Dead by Guy Fraser
It's 1863 and the Superintendent covering the inner city area of Glasgow has his hands full. First off an alarming forgery scandal has just been discovered and no sooner has he drawn breath than one, two and counting suspicious deaths occur. Instinctively, I want to say that it's all good, clean fun. Because it is. The language Fraser uses is very much of that era which lends the book a particular old-fashioned and rather twee, charm. It's all over the book in spades. On almost every page. Let me give you just one endearing example of the flavour of the book None of Mrs Maitland's four regulars at her superior guest house for single gentlemen would even dream of taking another's seat ...
|Avenging the Dead by Guy Fraser|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie|
|Summary: A who dunnit with a distinctly Scottish flavour. Gruesome goings-on and murders aplenty keep the local police force on their toes.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: June 2010|
|Publisher: Robert Hale Ltd|
And right from the word go, Fraser lets rip with many, many characters. Too many in fact. It can become a little muddy and perhaps a tad confusing at times. Added to all these names which pop up with alarming regularity, Fraser chooses not to flesh out all of his characters. So the reader has nothing to get a grip of, hold on to, relate to. Some of them could really disappear altogether and in my opinion, would make for a sharper storyline and plot.
The Superintendent in charge connected with all of these dastardly deeds (I'm getting pulled into Fraser's language here) is known as Jarrett. He's a single gentleman of certain years and I get the feeling that he huffs and puffs his way through all his criminal investigations. He's about average intelligence, not too bright but not too dim either. We're given a run-down of his diet at the superior guest house on several occasions, such is the tone of the whole book. This is light, entertaining reading. Nothing taxing at all.
There's not too much of the local dialect or even of the Glasgow humour as most of Fraser's characters speak properly. In that regard, they can appear a little lifeless on the printed page. The style of the book is flowing, with lots of long sentences properly constructed. Can be a bit plodding (no pun intended) but then again, that style will work for some readers. I would have to say that while enjoying this book I wouldn't rush out to seek another Fraser, just yet. One goes a long way.
The era of the novel has plenty of servants working in the large, sandstone, Glasgow villas. More of the upstairs/downstairs life would have been welcome to give the story more light and shade. For me, it just tottered along nicely on a fairly one-dimensional level.
On a more upbeat note, there are some good, creative lines here and there. One which I particularly liked was concerning a shifty character The inside of a police station was as alien to him as Patagonia or the Gobi Desert. Nice touch.
True to many detective stories, there are the time-wasters, the hoaxes, the dead-ends, the wild goose chases etc. All of Fraser's locations are based in Scotland, the central belt to be precise. The grittier areas, shall we say.
I read this book in two sittings but it could easily be read in one go. It's a very easy, undemanding but fun read. Ideal for holidays and beach reads, if you'll forgive a well-worn phrase. If you like your crime 'light' with not too much concentration on blood and guts, then this book should do nicely.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this book appeals then try Arthur and George by Julian Barnes.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Avenging the Dead by Guy Fraser at Amazon.com.
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