Beneath the Ashes by Jane Isaac

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Beneath the Ashes by Jane Isaac

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A neatly-plotted police procedural with plenty of red herrings to get your teeth into.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: November 2016
Publisher: Legend Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1785079474

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Nancy Faraday woke up on the kitchen floor of the farmhouse where her boyfriend was living. She'd no memory of what had happened the night before, but she was injured, the house had been broken into and her boyfriend, Evan Baker, was missing.

The police had been called to the farm by the fire brigade. There'd been a fire in one of the farm's barns and when they investigated a badly-burned body was discovered. It's up to DI Will Jackman to discover who's responsible - and before whoever it is who is stalking Nancy makes her their next victim.

There's a major obstacle though: when Evan Baker's sister is asked to identify the body she's adamant that it's not him. She hasn't seen him for six years but she produces convincing evidence that she's right. Only, when Nancy views the body - or what the fire has left of it - she knows that it is the man she's known for the last three months and he was Evan Baker. Then there's someone threatening Nancy, suggesting that she owes them money. Nancy's immediate reaction is that it's something to do with her mother, an alcoholic who has a history of running up debts, but £6000 seems a bit much in the circumstances and her mother swears that it's not her.

I liked Jackman: his wife's in a vegetative state after an accident. She's completely unresponsive and no one has any idea how much - if anything - she can understand of what's going on, but Jackman and his daughter are loyal to her. His daughter's away at university and it strikes Jackman, quite suddenly, that - essentially - she's left home. There'll be many a parent who empathises with that light bulb moment. He's got opportunities for other relationships - in the circumstances you really couldn't call it womanising - but his heart's in the job, or rather, the hands-on policing part of it. He's not a man for the political, paperwork, policy side of the force and he has mixed feelings about a possible promotion as it would take him further away from the job he wants to do.

Some minor characters were a little two-dimensional: even quite late in the story I was struggling to remember who was who, particularly amongst the female characters. This was balanced to a certain extent by an impressive plot with a good feel for how policing really works as opposed to what many crime writers would have you believe. But the Jackman character has legs and I can see this series developing into something special.

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

If you're in the market for a good police procedural you might like to meet DI Grace Fisher.

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