18 February 2012

Review: DEAD IN THE WATER, Aline Templeton

  • published by Hodder & Stoughton 2009
  • ISBN 972-0-340-97696-8
  • 372 pages
  • Source: local library book
  • #5 in the Marjorie Fleming series
Synopsis (from author's site)

A young girl's body was found washed up on the dramatic rocks beneath the Mull of Galloway lighthouse, but afrter twenty years her death is still a mystery.  DI Marjory Fleming is called in to reopen the case her late father, a policeman, was unable to solve.

At the same time, local resentment at the influx of Polish workmen and the arrival of a TV company filming an episode of a detective series bring about the discovery of a web of strange connections and old secrets, and more killings. As Fleming digs deeper it becomes clear that her father had tried to conceal some of the shameful details around the young girls death.  And Fleming struggles to cope with what the truth reveals, not only about her father but about herself.

My take

I hadn't meant to leave it so long to read another in the Marjory Fleming series, nor did I mean to hop a book or two. I have already read the first two in the series, COLD IN THE EARTH and THE DARKNESS AND THE DEEP, but before I began this blog. I have included  my mini reviews below.

Set near Scotland's version of Land's End, it's most southern tip, the Mull of Galloway, the Marjory Fleming series are police procedurals usually firmly anchored in contemporary events. In this novel foreign workers are moving into the area, accepting lower wages, and causing resentment amongst local young men who feel that they are being robbed of their livelihood. A popular television series, itself a police procedural, is having an episode filmed in the neighbourhood as a tribute to an elderly star who is taking a cameo role, and Marjory's son Cam is off to France to play rugby.

Detective Inspector Marjory Fleming has broken through the glass ceiling but life at the top is precarious, with her bosses hounding her and waiting for her to make a slip, and other women such as the Acting Procurator Fiscal undermining her at every opportunity. Marjory is also finding that the job really requires her full time attention and she has a husband who is a farmer, and two children in their late teens.

As with the earlier two that I have read this is a very readable book. There are a couple of nice twists to the plot and the investigation of the cold case from twenty years earlier calls into question the balance in the allocation of resources to current cases versus cold. When it is just an assault under scrutiny it does seem that the cold case is very important, but when a murder occurs, the cold case need to be shelved, but for Marjory it just won't go away.

If you like British police procedurals and are looking for a credible female protagonist, you'll enjoy this series. (I mentally compare her to Anne Cleeves' Vera Stanhope and Helene Tursten's Irene Huss). Starting from the beginning would be a good idea if you have time.

My rating: 4.5

Mini reviews:

COLD IN THE EARTH (publ.2005) my rating 4.6
#1 in Templeton's Marjory Fleming series: COLD IN THE EARTH is set in Galloway, Scotland, and foot and mouth disease strikes the cattle. All livestock have to be destroyed, including the sheep Marge's husband Bill loves so much. When a burial pit is dug at Kirkluce human remains are found. The Mason family on whose property the remains are found are so committed to raising cattle that they go to Pamplona every year for the running of the bulls, and Jake, the head of the family is nicknamed the Minotaur. An interesting snapshot too of a community torn apart by first of all the BSE and now the foot-and-mouth crisis. Herds and flocks built up over generations have to be destroyed. This is D. I. Marjorie Fleming's first murder investigation too. She is a tall raw-boned Scotswoman who rules her investigation team with sensitivity and purpose. The characterisation and humanity in these books is excellent and I will certainly be looking for #3 in the series ( LYING DEAD).

THE DARKNESS AND THE DEEP (publ.2006) my rating 4.6   
The second in the series with protagonist D. I. Marjory Fleming. The wreck of the Knockhaven lifeboat causes the death of all 3 of its crew, and worse, it looks like it is the result of sabotage. D. I. Marjory Fleming is a tall raw-boned Scotswoman who rules her investigation team with sensitivity and purpose. This is an excellent read - many red herrings and lots of well drawn characters.

I've also read one of Aline Templeton's stand-alones:
LAST ACT OF ALL  (publ. 1995) my rating 4.3
Helena Radley, formerly Fielding, was found guilty of the murder of her husband Neville Fielding. Neville's problem was that he was finding it increasingly difficult to separate his own personality from that of his television one, 'Bad' Harry Bradman. When they bought the ugly Radley house in the equally ugly Fens village of Radnesfield, Neville was on the cusp of TV soap success. From that point on he became increasingly obnoxious. Neville's philandering led to his divorce from Helena and then her marriage to Edward Radley. And then Neville was killed. Helena is unable to provide any evidence of her innocence and is gaoled for 4 years. Shortly after she is released, young DS Frances Howarth, decides to set about proving Helena's innocence. One of Aline Templeton's early novels - interesting plot but a rather contrived construction, and a little unbelievable.

DI Marjory Fleming (from Fantastic Fiction)
1. Cold in the Earth (2005)
2. The Darkness and the Deep (2006)
3. Lying Dead (2007)
4. Lamb to the Slaughter (2008)
5. Dead in the Water (2009)
6. Cradle to Grave (2011)

1 comment:

Dorte H said...

Oh no; my blog round today has been filled with temptations!

And I agree that Big Marge is much the same type as Irene Huss.


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