Cambridge Blue by Alison Bruce

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Cambridge Blue by Alison Bruce

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The first book to feature DC Gary Goodhew delivers a good plot, convincing characters and a policeman who doesn't drink to excess or sleep with every woman he meets. I know, you can't believe it, can you? The book's recommended though.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: November 2008
Publisher: Constable
ISBN: 978-1845298630

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Lorna Spence was one of those people – and we've all met far too many – who appear very pleasant and likeable but the reality is rather different. She was sure that she was in control of people, sure that she was loved right up until the moment that she realised she was about to die.

When the body of a young woman is found on Midsummer Common in Cambridge DC Gary Goodhew is on the team investigating the murder. He's the youngest detective at Parkside Police Station and he made detective in record time. Goodhew is frighteningly bright, intuitive and more than a little bit of a loose canon.

He's also a refreshing change from the middle-aged, grumpy, relationship-challenged characters who normally inhabit the police procedural genre. You could imagine having a drink with him and enjoying the experience – not that he drinks that much and he doesn't sleep with every woman he meets. His best friend is his grandmother. He's dedicated to his job, to finding out the truth and seeing justice done. If that sounds a little old-fashioned, well, he is, but in the nicest sense.

You can't say that for some of his colleagues though. It would be easy to say that there's the standard issue womaniser, mixed up girl in a bad relationship and rather grumpy boss, but they all manage to be more than that. If I've a quibble with the characters it's that I found it a little difficult at first to work out who was who but that was because there were several people with the same surname and not a lot to differentiate them. It is a minor quibble as all became as clear as it was intended to be very quickly.

It's the story that's important though and this is one which is both ordinary and extraordinary. You can imagine it happening – a girl found dead near some rubbish sacks – it happens all too often – but the story behind the discovery is complex and chilling and when another girl is murdered the tension becomes unbearable. It's a clever plot, which kept me guessing right up to the end. I almost got it right – but seeing as I suspected just about everyone except Gary Goodhew at one point or another there's no great pride to be had in that.

Alison Bruce is an established writer but this is her first foray into the world of the police procedural. I'd like to see more of Gary Goodhew and given that Bruce has started him young and at a low rank we might have a good many more years of him ahead of us. I do hope so.

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

Police procedurals are ten a penny but good ones are rare. This year we've been impressed by Cold in Hand by John Harvey and White Nights by Ann Cleeves.

Alison Bruce's DC Gary Goodhew Novels in Chronological Order

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Buy Cambridge Blue by Alison Bruce at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Cambridge Blue by Alison Bruce at


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