Monday, November 03, 2008

Patricia Hall, By Death Divided

Last week, finally back in the "lots and lots of reading" routine, I devoured a book by a British author I hadn't heard of before: Simon Becket's WRITTEN IN BONE. Set in the Outer Hebrides and featuring a forensic anthropologist, the book takes a classic suspense paradigm -- being trapped in an isolated place in a defined group of people, at least one of whom is a killer -- and issues it with compelling and suspenseful personal issues as well. And I loved the setting, off the coast of Scotland.

Unfortunately, I was so enthusiastic about the book that I sold it the next day. Such is the complexity of being a bookseller.

So for my weekend reading, I devoured another British one that's a first for me in an author's work: BY DEATH DIVIDED, by Patricia Hall -- a pseudonym of journalist Maureen O'Connor. This is the 2008 (Allison & Busby British publication) member of an acclaimed series that Hall provides, featuring reporter Laura Ackroyd and DCI (er, criminal investigator) Michael Thackeray. Bluntly, romance between a police officer and a journalist is a mine field of conversations that have to stop midway. But it's not the underlying stress between Ackroyd and Thackeray that makes this such a powerful read. Instead, there's a fast-paced plot that weaves together domestic violence and racism, topping it off with what the police need to do when faced with a potential terrorist threat, just because a victim is Pakistani.

Yes, I'll be looking for more in this series. I've already noticed, though, that they're not always easy to find.

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