Inhuman Remains by Quintin Jardine

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Inhuman Remains by Quintin Jardine

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Melony Sanders
Reviewed by Melony Sanders
Summary: The beginning of a new series by well-known author Quintin Jardine, featuring Primavera Blackstone, a hard-nosed private investigator who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. The plot is a little over-done, but flows well.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: July 2009
Publisher: Headline
ISBN: 978-0755348992

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Primavera Blackstone wants to keep a low profile. After an apparent attempt on her life by her ex-husband, she is still feeling fragile, even though Mr Blackstone is now dead. Living in Spain with her seven year old son, Tom, she thinks she is safe from prying eyes, but then her Aunt Adrienne comes to visit and all hell lets lose. Adrienne asks Prim to find her son, Prim's cousin, Frank, who has been out of contact for some time and who she suspects is in some kind of trouble. Prim eventually tracks Frank down, or rather, Frank finds her, but by then Adrienne is in the hands of his enemies, the perpetrators of a massive commercial fraud. Can Prim help Frank to safety, find Adrienne and solve the mystery, all without putting her son's life in danger?

Until I looked more closely at the book, I had not realised that this was not one of the Bob Skinner series, with which I have a rather love/hate relationship - I enjoyed the stories, but hated the pompous Bob Skinner with a passion. In fact, this is the beginning of a new series featuring Primavera Blackstone, ex-wife of Oz Blackstone, on whom Quintin Jardine has based another series. Knowing how I felt about Bob Skinner, I was slightly dubious about how I would react to Primavera; thankfully, she is a much more likeable character, and, although developed by a male author, is one that I could associate with.

Primavera is a tough cookie whose life has not been easy. Believing that her ex-husband wanted her dead, she was forced to forge a new name for herself in the US, only coming out of the woodwork to claim her son once she knew her ex was dead. Yet Prim does have some more pleasant characteristics. She is loyal, friendly and, to a certain extent, is vulnerable - this we get to see in her relationship with Frank, who she allows to get under her skin. She is perhaps a little exaggerated - female 'sleuths' always seem to be portrayed as tougher than they can possibly be - but apart from that, she is a well-rounded character complete with flaws, and I really enjoyed reading about her. There was certainly none of the 'I'm better than you' attitude that I have always felt Bob Skinner had.

The story is quite a good one, but does have its flaws. For starters, the commercial fraud was difficult for me to understand - anyone with a background in finance may not have had a problem, but it went over my head and should have been more simply described. I found myself skipping over the bits that involved the fraud, thereby at least momentarily losing the thread of what was happening. That aside, I enjoyed the pacing of the story; every time I thought I had worked out what was going on, it would take another turn. And there is a twist at the end - it wasn't a complete surprise, but it was pleasantly satisfying nevertheless.

I've read a lot of crime fiction and so I like, if possible, something different to make a book stand out a little. An exotic location always helps; in this case, it is Spain, which isn't all that exotic, but still better than a wet and windy British city. Prim lives on the coast in a small village which sounds amazing, but she also visits other places, including Seville and Barcelona, and I really enjoyed the descriptions of the architecture. A little more information on the food would have been welcome, but as that would partially detract from the story, I am perhaps being picky.

The style of writing is generally quite plain, but did have one annoying tendency that I noticed in the early part of the book. Prim would be narrating her story, but would suddenly add in a chatty phrase in brackets. As an example, she describes Tom going off to bed with his dog and a Harry Potter book, then in brackets says - I plan to allow him only one a year; I reckon that later books are a bit too dark for pre-teen kids before returning to her narration. I found this unnecessary and irritating, although I understand the author is trying to imitate Prim's informal way of speaking.

This book isn't without its faults; nevertheless, it is a good and entertaining read and would be perfect for the beach. For the start of a new series, it certainly shows promise and I will be looking out for the next one in the series. I am also tempted to go back to the Oz Blackstone series to find out what sort of man Prim was married to. Recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If you enjoy crime fiction set in Europe, you should try Fatal Remedies by Donna Leon, which is set in Italy and The Paper Moon by Andrea Camilleri, set in Sicily.

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