2 July 2012

Review: LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER, Aline Templeton

  • published Hodder & Stoughton 2008
  • 409 pages
  • ISBN 978-0-340-92229-3
  • Source: my local library
  • #4 in the DI Marjory Fleming series
Synopsis (author's website)

A sunny evening, a tranquil garden – and an old man brutally gunned down on his doorstep.

In the pretty and peaceful market town of Kirkluce a proposed superstore development has divided the population in an increasingly bitter war.  The low-level aggression of bored youth that is generally tolerated has become sinister. The bloodied corpse of a sheep abandoned in the streets is more than just unpleasant vandalism and teenage bikers, terrorising a woman to breaking point, are impossible to control.

When a second victim is killed in what seems a random shooting, the fear in the town becomes tangible.  DI Fleming will not accept that the crimes are motiveless, but she struggles to make sense of the two murders, when nothing makes sense any more and no on will believe anything.  Not even the truth.

My Take

Earlier this year I identified a couple of Templeton novels I hadn't read and managed to snare this one at the local library. If you like your British police procedurals carefully plotted, with real life characters, then, like me, you'll enjoy this one.

The basic scenario is that a supermarket chain has its eye on the small market town of Kirkluce. They have identified the location for the next store in their expansion programme. It will mean the demolition of a number of small shops and the owner of those premises is opposed to it and has vowed he won't sell.
Of course the town is divided with some seeing the building of a supermarket as a great move, denigrating those who oppose the development as living in the past. The local Councillor, who also happens to be a land agent who can see fees coming his way, is all for the development.

The first murder occurs when Marjory Fleming's sergeant Tam MacNee is on sick leave and unlikely to be back at work any time soon. Marjory misses Tam as a sounding board and an ideas man, and Tam himself is resentful of what he considers the unnecessary extension of his sick leave. Marjory bans her team from spilling information to Tam, but the last thing she needs is him taking matters into his own hands and carrying out his own investigation.

I've enjoyed every one of these books. The characters are great and the scenarios taken from the issues of social and economic change facing most small towns. The interaction between members of the police team is realistic and I've enjoyed watching Marjory's family develop. I'm looking forward to reading #6.

My rating: 4.6

The series (list 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)

My 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.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kerrie - Glad you liked this one. I agree the series has a great set of characters, and there's a solid balance between "domestic scenes" and the investigations.


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