26 October 2011

Review: THE DEAD HAND OF HISTORY, Sally Spencer

  • published 2009, Severn House Publishers
  • ISBN 978-0-7278-6805-3
  • 235 pages
  • Source: local library book
Publisher's blurb

The first in a new series featuring Charlie Woodend's protege, DCI Monika Paniatowski - It will be no easy task to fill DCI Charlie Woodend's shoes, the newly-promoted Monika Paniatowski tells herself, but, given a little time, she thinks she can grow into them. Yet, with the discovery of a severed hand, time is the one thing she does not have. When her colleagues prove untrustworthy, the urge to call Woodend for help becomes almost irresistible . . .

My take:

I read #2 in this series, THE RING OF DEATH, at the end of last year, and liked it so much that I promised myself to chase up the first in the series. I'm so glad I did and look forward to reading #3.

You can put DCI Monika Paniatowski right up there with female sleuths. She's tough, gritty, and has lots of that "gut feeling" that characterises the best of modern detectives. Apart from being a woman, she carries a little extra baggage: she is a Pole, and once had an affair with the Chief Constable, who's determined he won't be seen as doing her any favours. She has a bagman, Sergeant Walker, who resents her and does his best to leave her out of the loop whenever possible, and the press are just waiting for her to make big mistakes on her first job. Monika would love to consult Charlie Woodend for advice, and even goes as far as doing some heavy breathing on the end of his phone, but this case with two severed hands asks for her best efforts. And she is not entirely on her own: Inspector Colin Beresford provides faithful support and she has won recent graduate DC Crane over to her side.

After tough, abrasive, Charlie Woodend, some think Monika might be a bit soft. But they soon learn differently.  And she already has the pathologist and her local JP on her side, simply because she is a woman.

It was interesting being there right at the beginning, watching Monika establish her team, and put in place her own procedures. There's a touch of humour in the writing particularly in the descriptions of her management of her teenage daughter struggling with her homework.

Good reading. If you like Ann Cleeves' Vera Stanhope, or Helene Tursten's Irene Huss, or Aline Templeton's Marjorie Fleming, then you'll take to Monika Paniatowski.

My rating: 4.7.

Reviews of Sally Spencer titles on MiP
4.3, THE GOLDEN MILE TO MURDER
4.5, THE RING OF DEATH (#2 of the Monika Paniatowski series)
4.4, FATAL QUEST: WOODEND'S FIRST CASE
4.4, THE SALTON KILLINGS  

1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - Thanks for this! This series moved off my radar for a bit. I need to target it again...

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