The Orchid Field by Amy McLellan

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The Orchid Field by Amy McLellan

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A well-researched and well-plotted thriller set in Mexico. There's a real sense of place and some unexpected twists. I'd like to say 'sit back and enjoy' but you'll be on the edge of your seat as you get near the end.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 234 Date: January 2013
Publisher: Dare Books
ISBN: 978-0956502025

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In London, petroleums expert Catherine Davenport ponders whether a change of employer is going to be to her advantage. An ill-advised fling with her boss is causing her embarrassment at work, particularly now that he has a new born child. An offer of a job that would take her out to Mexico to do a report on an off-shore oil field is too good an opportunity to miss. In Mexico Inspector Cortez is languishing in Port Luz in the back of beyond, sent in disgrace from his post in the city. He knows that he’s not - and never has been - corrupt but no one else believes him. In fact it’s seen as normal. Then a body appears on the beach and the local fishermen point out into the gulf and tell him that it came from there. When he looks more closely he realises that they mean the oil rigs.

You ease in gently, sharing Catherine’s anguish as she overhears her boss’s telephone conversations with his newborn (yes - you read that correctly...) or Cortez’ frustration with the corruption in the police station in Port Luz - and even sympathise with his wife’s resentment that she and their two daughters have been forced to leave the city for this ‘’backwater’’. And so it might have continued but for the body. He was a UK oil worker, experienced on the Scottish rigs, but why does no one seem to want to get to the bottom of the disappearance? In Port Luz they’re more bothered about not upsetting the people who’re bringing much needed money into the small town and the police chief would prefer that Cortez spends his time supporting the family of a soap star who has been kidnapped from a luxury hotel.

The people grabbed me straightaway. Catherine Davenport isn’t a glamorous young thing - she’s forty-one, divorced and carrying just a little more weight than is kind to her looks. Cortez isn’t handsome and dashing - he’s a man who’s trying not to be ground down by injustice and it shows. One or two of the peripheral men tended to blend into each other, but that’s a minor nitpick in the context of a plot based on a set of entirely believable circumstances which build into a perfect storm. There’s also the location - Mexico - which will leave you feeling decidedly warm despite the fact that ‘’snow’’ is falling outside - and the background of the oil industry. All too often when you have a plot set in a business which we all know ‘’of’’, but probably don’t know much ‘’about’’ you get every bit of research shoehorned in. Here you get the sense of an author who knows a ‘’lot’’ more than she feels the need to tell us and who’s the master of her topic. Good stuff and definitely recommended.

I’d like to thank the publisher for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For another story with a background in the oil industry we can recommend Star Gazing by Linda Gillard or The Moon Pool by Sophie Littlefield. For a thriller where the future shortage of oil is the background to the story, have a look at Battalion by Adam Hamdy.

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Buy The Orchid Field by Amy McLellan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Orchid Field by Amy McLellan at


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