16 August 2011

Review: THE GOLDEN MILE TO MURDER, Sally Spencer

  • Severn House Publishers 2001
  • 248 pages
  • ISBN 9-780727-857101
  • Source: my local library
  • #5/20 in the Woodend series

Publisher's blurb
The investigation into the brutal murder of a Blackpool policeman in the middle of the holiday season was never going to easy, but the case itself is not Woodend's only problem. There is trouble at home: his new boss, DS Ainsworth, is just waiting for an opportunity to stick a knife in his back; his invaluable assistant, Bob Rutter, had been replaced by a new sergeant more intent on advancing her own career than helping him - and the Blackpool police themselves seem to think it might be better if the killer were never found...

My take

Dipping into an established series has its problems for the reader as you have to work out a lot of the detail from earlier novels yourself (if the author doesn't tell you a lot of back story)

Charlie Woodend, "Cloggin-it Charlie", has obviously upset his superiors at Scotland Yard to the point that he's been relocated. In the THE SALTON KILLINGS which was the first in the series he was the "expert" from London, the bigwig from Scotland Yard. Although that brought problems, now the scenario is very different.

Now he has to report to Chief Superintendent Ainsworth at Lancashire Central in Whitebridge. This is where Woodend originally came from but it's no happy homecoming. Ainsworth sees him as trouble and assigns him a new "bag man" in the person of Sergeant Monika Paniatowski, the original Ice Maiden. Monika has had a difficult time in getting promotion partly because of her gender and partly because of her own sensitivity. Woodend is at first resentful of losing Rob Rutter who has been promoted but then he decides to see what he can do to initiate Monika into the way he works.  In reality Woodend likes best to work alone but Ainsworth tells him he must learn to work as a team player. Woodend tells Monika that they have been paired because Ainsworth doesn't think any one else would want to work with them.

The first case they are assigned is the murder of  popular DI "Punch" Davies. Woodend quickly gains the impression that his "team", who are all locals, are not working particularly hard at getting answers, almost as if they have something to hide.

So there is a lot of canvas enlargement in THE GOLDEN MILE TO MURDER. For the author, with a change of scenery for Woodend and new characters to associate with him, it is almost like starting again. It is set in the 1960s mainly in Blackpool and there is plenty of scope for Woodend to reflect on what things were like when he was a lad growing up in the area.

I'd call THE GOLDEN MILE TO MURDER  a good solid read, a story well told. My rating 4.3

Other reviews on this blog of Spencer titles
4.5, THE RING OF DEATH - #2 in the Paniatowski series
4.4, FATAL QUEST: WOODEND'S FIRST CASE - #20 in the Woodend series
4.4, THE SALTON KILLINGS - #1 in the Woodend series

Inspector Woodend (list from Fantastic Fiction)
1. The Salton Killings (1998)
2. Murder at Swann's Lake (1999)
3. Death of a Cave Dweller (2000)
4. The Dark Lady (2000)
5. The Golden Mile to Murder (2000)
6. Dead On Cue (2001)
7. Death of an Innocent (2002)
8. The Red Herring (2002)
9. The Enemy Within (2003)
10. A Death Left Hanging (2003)
11. The Witch Maker (2004)
12. The Butcher Beyond (2004)
13. Dying in the Dark (2005)
14. Stone Killer (2005)
15. A Long Time Dead (2006)
16. Sins of the Fathers (2006)
17. Dangerous Games (2007)
18. Death Watch (2007)
19. A Dying Fall (2008)
20. Fatal Quest: Woodend's First Case (2008)

1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - Thanks for the well-done review. It's always tricky isn't it for an author to write the 5th, 6th, or 17th of a series and give enough backstory to welcome new readers without so much as to be boring. That takes some skill. The mix of those two sleuths' personalities sounds like an interesting one...

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