Rattling the Bones by Ann Granger

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Rattling the Bones by Ann Granger

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: In the seventh Fran Varady crime novel Fran is intrigued when a bag lady appears to be being followed. Her enquiries involve a dead body, and a family quarrel dating back to the mid twentieth century.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: May 2007
Publisher: Headline Book Publishing
ISBN: 978-0755320462

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Fran Varady, would-be actress and sometime private investigator, was walking through Camden when she spotted someone she used to know when she was homeless. Fran's a modern success story, you see: left homeless on the death of her father and grandmother, she lived in a squat in Rotherhithe, but now she's got a flat of her own. Edna hasn't been quite as lucky. She used to live in a cemetery with feral cats for company, but now she's living in a hostel. Fran was glad to see her, but rather surprised when Edna spotted someone and dodged off looking terrified.

Fran is one of those people who like to know what's going on. Concerned for Edna, who isn't as mad as she likes people to think, she decides to confront the rather strange young man who was watching her. It's only when she discovers a body that she realises that matters have become a little serious.

I do like Fran Varady. She's a feisty young woman more conscious of her good fortune than regretful that the past hasn't always been as good as it might have been. She's street-wise - well, it's not everyone who's had the relevant experience, is it? Most importantly she's not forgotten the people she knew when times were bad and she's prepared to look out for their interests. Fran does tend to dominate the novel but other characters are well-enough drawn to ensure that they're not caricatures.

Ann Granger has a very good ear for dialogue. She doesn't make the mistake of trying to imitate 'youf', but still catches the way people really talk. There's a quiet, understated humour too as Fran delves into Edna's past and looks at the mores of the mid-twentieth century and how they contrast with present-day values. It's an intriguing story and one I didn't expect.

The pace of the novel is deceptive. It seems to go along at a very leisurely, almost indolent speed, but all the threads of the plot are being quietly woven together to form a very tense finale. I'll confess that I had the wrong person in the frame for the murder, but I rather like a clever book which has me fooled.

This is the seventh novel in the Fran Varady series and Ann Granger has achieved the difficult task of keeping them fresh. There's no sense of the author being bored by the character as happens with some long-running series. If you've read previous Fran Varady crime novels you might recognise some references to earlier cases, but there are no spoilers and each book can be read as a stand-alone novel.

My thanks to the lovely people at Headline for sending us the book.

If you enjoy books featuring the civilian investigator you might also enjoy Alison Joseph's Shadow of Death featuring Sister Agnes or Maxwell's Mask by M J Trow which is set in a school and features Peter Maxwell.

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Buy Rattling the Bones by Ann Granger at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Rattling the Bones by Ann Granger at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Rattling the Bones by Ann Granger at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Rattling the Bones by Ann Granger at Amazon.com.


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