23 June 2011

Review: THE SALTON KILLINGS, Sally Spencer

Published: 1998
This edition: Dales Large Print Books
Length: 333 pages
ISBN 9-781853-899249
Source: my local library

Publisher's blurb

Drafted in from London to investigate the strangling of a teenager, Chief Inspector Woodend is an outspoken Northerner who does his policing the old-fashioned way: local knowledge and a healthy pinch of intuition. He is convinced that Margie Poole, daughter of the local landlady and the teenager's best friend, knows more about Dian Thorburn's last movements than she is prepared to tell. Woodend's enquiry turns up the death of another girl a generation before and the similarities look sinister. Is there a serial killer on the loose.

My take:

THE SALTON KILLINGS is set in a small salt mining village in Cheshire in the mid 50s. Chief Inspector Charlie Woodend, "Cloggin'- it Charlie", is a northerner, a bit of a misfit at Scotland Yard. He has a reputation of wearing out sergeants faster than you can get through shoe leather.
    Rutter [Charlie's assigned sergeant for this case] finally caught sight of the DCI, a man in his middle forties, wearing a baggy check sports coat over a zipped knitted cardigan. ... Hair - light brown, no Brylcreem, unruly. Nose - nearly, but not quite, hooked. Mouth - wide. Jaw - square without being brutish. All in all, a pleasant but unremarkable face. Except for the eyes. They were dark, almost black, and the lids were like camera shutters, constantly clicking and registering.
If you are looking for a well constructed British police procedural then THE SALTON KILLINGS, the debut novel in Spencer's Woodend series, might hit the spot. It did for me. An almost undemanding and quick read, with many of the hall marks of a cozy. But Charlie Woodend is an interesting character. THE SALTON KILLINGS is written retrospectively. The Epilogue takes us to Woodend in retirement and looks back at the case. An interesting technique.

I decided to track down the first in the series after I had read (and liked) the last on the list (see below) and then the second in Spencer's series that followed - the DCI Monika Paniatowski series.

I'll be reading more of the Woodend series.
My rating: 4.4

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:

Anonymous said...

Kerrie - Thanks for this :-). I have to confess, this is a new-to-me author, but you've made me want to remedy that. Soon.


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