The Bad Fire (Bob Skinner) by Quintin Jardine

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The Bad Fire (Bob Skinner) by Quintin Jardine

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The 31st Bob Skinner novel and it's as fresh and compelling as ever. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432/12h26m Date: November 2019
Publisher: Headline
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1472255792

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Nine years ago local councillor Marcia Brown took her own life after being accused of shoplifting from a local supermarket. It's always been assumed that she couldn't live with the shame. People were surprised that she committed suicide just before the court case when she had been adamant that she would fight to clear her name. She said that she'd been set up because she was hot on the trail of corruption in the council. Her ex-husband has contacted Alex Skinner, Solicitor Advocate as well as retired Police Constable Bob Skinner's daughter, and asked that she look into clearing Brown's name: it's something which he feels that he has to do in memory of his son who was murdered recently.

It sounds quite simple, doesn't it? Just chase up the people involved in a shoplifting case from nine years ago and check out their stories, see if there's anything which ought to be followed up or if there are any loose ends which can be pulled. Alex Skinner isn't even going to do it herself: she'll use an investigator. Normally she'd use her father if he had the time, but there's a possibility that police corruption could be involved and she'd hate to embarrass him. So, on her father's recommendation she called in Carrie McDaniels.

Perhaps, just perhaps, all might not have been done as it should have been done. Some of the people involved in the shoplifting incident seem to be suspiciously involved with each other and with Marcia Brown's main antagonist on the council. Why did a detective sergeant from CID turn up at the supermarket to make the arrest when it's something that would normally have been done by uniform? Then there's a disappearance and Alex Skinner is attacked in her own home.

Few detective series stand the test of time: you're no longer quite so excited when you realise that there's a new book out soon. Then there comes a point when you find that you've actually missed a book and you're not actually worried. Even John Rebus isn't quite the draw that he used to be and you begin to wonder if the author is that interested any more, or if it's the publishers who are pushing for more when the well has all but run dry. One of the few exceptions to this is Quintin Jardine's Bob Skinner novels. I've read or listened to every one, never found one to be a disappointment and of the thirty-one books this is my twenty-eighth review. I am still excited when a new book's on the way and I even have note in my diary, just chance I might forget.

The Bad Fire didn't disappoint. There was a steady build-up of tension until it became almost unbearable as we got close to the end and just when I thought it was all sorted out there was one final dramatic twist. The clues were all there, but I didn't see it coming. You'll recognise a good number of the characters, but they support the story, rather than dominating it and one character you've met before comes to play a part you'd never have thought possible.

Now I've got to wait another year for the next installment, but I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag have a review copy. In the meantime, the series I'll be looking out for are Susan Hill's Simon Serrailler novels and Stuart MacBride's Logan McRae. Bob Skinner is in good company.

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Quintin Jardine's Bob Skinner Novels in Chronological Order


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