25 April 2015

Review: TALKING TO THE DEAD, Harry Bingham

  • first published 2012 by Orion Books
  • ISBN 978-1-4091-4086-3
  • 377 pages
  • source: my local library
  • #1 in the Fiona Griffiths series
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)


At first, the murder scene appears sad, but not unusual: a young woman undone by drugs and prostitution, her six-year-old daughter dead alongside her. But then detectives find a strange piece of evidence in the squalid house: the platinum credit card of a very wealthy - and long dead - steel tycoon. What is a heroin-addicted hooker doing with the credit card of a well-known and powerful man who died months ago? This is the question that the most junior member of the investigative team, Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths, is assigned to answer.

But D.C. Griffiths is no ordinary cop. She's earned a reputation at police headquarters in Cardiff, Wales, for being odd, for not picking up on social cues, for being a little overintense. And there's that gap in her past, the two-year hiatus that everyone assumes was a breakdown. But Fiona is a crack investigator, quick and intuitive. She is immediately drawn to the crime scene, and to the tragic face of the six-year-old girl, who she is certain has something to tell her . . . something that will break the case wide open.

Ignoring orders and protocol, Fiona begins to explore far beyond the rich man's credit card and into the secrets of her seaside city. And when she uncovers another dead prostitute, Fiona knows that she's only begun to scratch the surface of a dark world of crime and murder. But the deeper she digs, the more danger she risks - not just from criminals and killers but from her own past . . . and the abyss that threatens to pull her back at any time.

My Take

We know from the very beginning that there is something rather odd about Fiona Griffiths. More than anything she wants to be accepted in "Planet Normal". Part of our job as a reader is to unravel why that is not happening.  Fiona gets a better understanding of herself when she is told by a friend that she has post traumatic stress disorder, but she can't work out what has triggered this.

We know that Fiona lost about two years of her life at the end of her schooling. Eventually we learn that Fiona was diagnosed at that time with a particular disorder. Is it Asberger's or something else?

But all this is not to say that Fiona Griffiths is not a valuable detective: as those who are in charge of her know, she needs careful management, but she has insights that no-one else seems capable of. And she tends not to do things by the book, to think outside the square, to act without thinking too much about the danger to herself.

This book is the story of Fiona's first murder case: she is drawn in by the murders of Janet, a part-time prostitute, and her six year old daughter April. She is convinced that Janet and April were in hiding at the time they died, but what were they hiding from? Is the credit card of a dead millionaire that Janet has in her possession a vital clue?

My rating : 4.4

About the author

Harry Bingham is a successful novelist and author of, amongst others, The Lieutenants Lover and Glory Boys. This Little Britain was his first work of non-fiction. He runs The Writers' Workshop, an editorial consultancy for first-time writers. His first novel was published in 200, and he now has had 9 novels published.
The Fiona Griffiths series
1. Talking to the Dead (2012)
2. Love Story, With Murders (2013)
3. The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths (2014)
4. This Thing of Darkness (2015)


Margot Kinberg said...

I've been hearing good things about this series, Kerrie. Fiona Griffiths certainly seems like...not your ordinary everyday copper. Glad you enjoyed this.

Robert (R.T.) Davis said...

Great posting! I hope I can find the author in my library. I want to add such books to my "must read" list at my new blog, Crimes in the Library. So thanks for giving me another author to add.

Kathy D. said...

A very interesting book and protagonist. She us a bit like Lizbeth Salander, but not entirely.

She is a survivor despite her deep problems, and she is a crime solver, although she investigates in her own way.

The book fascinated me and I read it quickly, but the violence at the end was a bit too much. I wish crimes could be solved by such interesting detectives without so much violence.

But I liked this book and I will continue on with the series.

I hope that Harry Bingham investigates Fiona's origins and the cause of her disorder.


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