I’ve been looking for some humor, and in Scot Free, I found it. The last book I
picked up to read that was supposed to be humorous didn’t do it for me, but
this one makes me laugh.
I read some reviews where McPherson fans were disappointed
in this novel, but since I haven’t read any of her previous books, I had no
expectations. Her characters are ridiculous and outlandish, and I love them. The
residents of the Last Ditch Motel, where Lexi ends up entirely by accident, are
unbelievable but loveable and laughable.
Lexi’s descriptions of California life from the point of
view of a recent immigrant from Scotland are delightful. The plot is silly and
unbelievable but entertaining.
A police procedural mystery with beautiful coastal England
settings and a mix of interesting characters.
The plot includes the murder of an apparently homeless man
and two kidnappings of Down syndrome women. Detective Matthew Venn believes
they are somehow related. All the victims have connections to his husband
Jonathon’s service center, The Woodyard, which houses an artist’s colony, a
counseling service, and a center for the learning disabled.
The author’s characters are varied and usually believable.
But I found DI Venn a bit too insecure for a detective leading a murder
investigation. His constable, Jenn Rafferty, is lively and smart. Ross, another
member of Venn’s team, is young and impatient.
Cleeves’s description of North Devon brings to life the
sights, smell, and sounds of the villages, countryside, and the coastline.
The story held my interest throughout. The pace is somewhat
slow in the middle but interesting enough to keep me reading. It picks up
toward the end.
The Long Call is
the second novel I’ve read by Ann Cleeves. I’ll look for more of her books.
I almost abandoned this novel after the first few chapters
because it bounced around too much in time and POV. First there was part of a
trial (2005), then a murder scene (2001), a scene with Cathie, the protagonist,
at work (2007), Catherine, an earlier version of Cathie, out drinking with
friends (2003), and finally it gets into the rhythm of skipping back and forth
between 2007 and 2003. At this point, I started to get hooked.
The personalities of Cathie and Catherine are entirely
different. Catherine (2003) loves to party, drinks too much, sleeps around.
Cathie (2007) suffers from severe OCD and PTSD. Catherine hooks up with sexy,
mysterious Lee, who becomes more and more controlling and abusive. Cathie starts
a cautious friendship with her neighbor Stuart, a psychologist who is
unbelievably understanding of her weird behavior.
There is no mystery. The trial at the beginning tells us
that Lee is the bad guy in the story. It’s obvious that Catherine and Cathie are
the same person. It’s also fairly obvious that Lee probably murdered the woman at
the beginning of the story (2001). At first, I thought the trial (2005) was for
But this is a well-written psychological suspense/thriller.
It kept me reading throughout to find out what happens next. Haynes follows
Catherine/Cathie’s personality changes in detail—Catherine’s downhill slide as
her relationship with Lee becomes more controlling and abusive, and Cathie’s
climb back to normality as she struggles to overcome her anxiety and OCD.
I would recommend the book to anyone who likes dark stories.
This novel is my introduction to a well-known mystery
writer. Jumping into the last book of Ann Cleeves’ Shetland Island series with
DI Jimmy Perez, I found the story easy to read as a stand-alone and will likely
go back and read more of her work.
The author’s depiction of the setting makes me want to visit
the small village on a remote island in the far north UK. The characters are
equally well defined. A family has moved to the island from London, in part to
provide a better life for their two children. Christopher, their autistic son
who has a liking for fire, is one of the main characters in the story. He finds
the body of a neighbor’s nanny hanging from the rafters of their shed, where
the previous owner of their home committed suicide.
The mystery stays unsolved until the end. The suspects are
many, beginning with the family and including a bitter town gossip who becomes
the next murder victim.
I would recommend this well-written book to anyone who loves
a good mystery.