I’ve got 2 quick crime reviews for you, both of which I enjoyed in different ways and one – ‘The Ugly Man’- is a short story, so a bit of a change to what I usually read. I always think it’s interesting with shorter stories how effectively they are written given the shorter length.
An Intimate Murder
An Intimate Murder by Stacy Verdick Case is a fun, witty detective story. This is the 3rd novel in the Catherine O’Brien series, and although I haven’t read the first 2 I felt that there was no requirement to have done so; the characters are easy to work out and the storyline seems to be self-contained.
An Intimate Murder follows the protagonist Catherine, a Detective, and her partner Louise, as they try to solve a double homicide. When Catherine loses her temper with the bloody-thirsty press and ends up berating them, this leads to a very unflattering article being published about the Police Station. As a punishment, Catherine and Louise end up saddled with local journalist Jane, who wrote the article in question, in the hope that Jane will see that the Police Force aren’t really so unreliable and unruly. They are instructed by their Chief to allow Jane to shadow them as they try to solve the double murder, and aren’t given any choice in the matter. This leads to frustration and enlightenment as Jane learns just how tough solving a murder can be- and Catherine and Louise learn that there are sometimes advantages to having ‘journalists’ around!
At times the novel seems very American – particularly with regards to the style and the characters’ names (Chad, anyone?) and colloquialisms- but, although this can usually grate on my nerves when reading, in this case it didn’t bother me too much, and the storyline certainly kept me entertained throughout with the touches of humour that lighten up the serious subject matter. The narrative moves quickly enough that it doesn’t get at all stagnant and, though she was a little annoying at times, by the end of the novel I had really warmed to the main character Catherine; her witty thoughts and remarks made me laugh out loud on several occasions! She’s certainly not a boring, run-of-the-mill detective, as can be the norm for so many crime novels!
In my opinion, the fact that Jane the journalist got permission from the Mayor’s office to shadow the detectives as they worked, with the Chief allowing this to happen, felt quite unrealistic to me- never mind how rude or abrupt Catherine had been to the press or what a crazy, untruthful article Jane had published about the police department. That being said, the presence of Jane’s character does add to the story, setting up some amusing situations and, again, makes the novel stand out from other ‘samey’ detective stories that often saturate the market.
Overall I enjoyed reading An Intimate Murder; it was a simple but entertaining crime novel that didn’t try to be anything it’s not, and I liked that about it. I am now tempted to read the first 2 novels to see how they measure up, and to read more about the likeable character of Catherine O’Brien and her partner Louise!
**This was an advance copy for review, but the novel will be published 7th October 2014**
The Ugly Man (short story)
The story follows journalist Patty Coleman, who travels to a small village to report on the murder of a well-loved local barmaid. Whilst there she speaks to locals who witnessed the murder and who all swear that a local man called ‘Mark Radix’, also knows as ‘The Ugly Man’ due to his deformed facial features, walked into the pub and killed her. The case may seem clear cut but as Patty becomes more and more intrigued, is she is in danger of becoming a victim herself…?
Viner manages to make the reader feel real sympathy for ‘The Ugly Man’ and draws attention to the awful way he was treated by everyone because of his appearance. There is quite a lot of distressing and upsetting parts to the story and the reader then feels a whole mix of emotions towards him as the story continues, not knowing what to think; this is quite unnerving and adds to the suspense throughout.
I enjoyed the twists and turns along the way; as the novel is a short there isn’t as much time as in other books to build up to the crescendo at the end but Viner still manages it really well and kept me hooked until the end!
I’d give this 4/5, definitely worth giving it a read when it’s out on August 1st– it seems you can pre-order on Amazon for free here so why not give it a go?!