Stone Dead

by Frank Smith

Thursday, January 24, 2002

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This is a book I bought just for the setting, a police series set in Shropshire was something I had to try out and the reviews weren’t bad either. So I was a bit disappointed at the lack of scenery details, other than the mentions of various small towns we could have been anywhere in rural Emgland. And the back cover thinks it’s set in Hertfordshire anyway, so it very well may be set across the county border.

My main problem with this book was that there were too many police people. I never did get the male characters straight or figure out the rank hierarchy. I figured out the female police staff and thought one of them, a forensic technician, was the best drawn character on the investigating side. The miscellany of characters drawn into the investigation were much better drawn and I think it’s a pity that the skill that was shown in creating these individuals didn’t stretch to what I thought were the rather generic policemen.

For the most part I thought the plot was good and the author dug into the suspects lives, uncovering layer after layer of hidden motives, very realistically. The weak point was a subplot involving one of the policemen. I thought this could have been used to develop the police characters and the fact that one of them was caught up in it should have had a knock on impact to the main investigation.

A short but well formed book but one where many things could have been a little better polished really. I’ll probably try another in the series sometime as I think these are marks of a first book rather than a bad writer.