Today I am delighted to join the blog tour for Graham Smith’s latest DI Harry Evans novel, When the Waters Recede. My thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to join the tour. Let’s take a look at what the book is all about.
About the Book
When a car is pulled from raging floodwaters with a dead man in the front and the decapitated body of an evil woman in the boot, Cumbria’s Major Crimes Team are handed the investigation. The woman is soon recognised, but the man cannot be identified and this leads the team and their former leader, Harry Evans, into areas none of them want to visit.
Before they know it, they’re dealing with protection scams and looking for answers to questions they didn’t know needed to be asked.
Now I’ll be honest – like most books, I didn’t really read the blurb before setting off on my journey with former DI Harry Evans and co so the opening chapter wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It probably wasn’t what DC Lauren Phillips was expecting either with the retrieval of a car, partly submerged in flood water, leading to the discovery of a decapitated body. Unlike the flooding, that’s not your typical occurrence in Cumbria and understandably sends the Major Crimes Team into a flurry of activity trying to identify the driver and aforementioned body. The second i.d. is quickly made, the first not so easily solved and as the investigation progresses startling links are uncovered putting one of the team in jeopardy.
Following on from the novella, No Comment, the story sees newly retired DI Harry Evans join his former team in an advisory/consultancy capacity. He has no authority and yet, to the annoyance of new DI Campbell, his team still defer to his knowledge and experience and some of Harry’s methods do prove effective, others potentially deadly. I like the character of Harry Evans. Rough around the edges, sharp of tongue, intolerant as you like and as none politically correct as it is possible to be, he is a police detective of the old school, but an effective one no less. There are no airs and graces about him, although his moral code is very strong. The method in which he gains acceptance into the investigation goes against everything he stands for and yet it still beats retirement. You can;t help but like and respect the old goat, no matter how archaic his attitudes may sometimes be.
The team is another set of interesting characters, with Lauren Phillips playing a very large role in the story. She has her own demons to battle in this book, ones which see her slightly off her game and cause her to question how she has approached her life and her job to date. She plays a role, a game, and plays it well, but it is clear she is not entirely comfortable in that role any more, something which Graham smith has used to good effect to drive the story and the relationship between Phillips and Evans. As for the rest of the tean, they all have their roles to play, and the animosity and grudging cooperation between Campbell and Evan’s leads to some interesting moments as one tries to assert authority over the other with varying levels of success on both sides.
This is an intriguing story which doesn’t go perhaps where you think it might. There are several threads, all seemingly unconnected at first, with characters introduced who I couldn’t necessarily find a natural fit for in the storyline. The progress into identifying the mystery man from the car, potentially the beheaded woman’s killer, was slow to begin with, echoed in the frustration of the investigating team and reflective of true life. It led to more colourful characters from Cumbria’s underworld and a whole wannabe protection racket which may hold the key to the whole case. But still, there was one story arc which seemed unrelated – relatively unexplained.
But then that is the beauty of this book. It lies in Graham Smith’s ability to take these seemingly unconnected and unrelated threads and pull them together in a tightly plotted and quite surprising way. There are clues dotted throughout, easy to recognise when you know the whole truth, but it is not until near the end that the full picture becomes clear. And it is at this stage that the tension ramps up and the pace becomes that bit faster too. The book does not hurtle along, it is not one of those kinds of stories, but the final third of the book certainly steps up a gear. As readers by this stage we understand the full truth of what is happening. Until this point, beside a couple of grizzly deaths, the investigation had seemed fairly routine, but by heck. It is anything but and the resultant race against time will get the heart thumping and the reader leaning that little bit further forward in their seat with every page turn.
Graham Smith has created a very clever novel here, one relating to basic human urges, both physical and psychological, each section of the book a demonstration of power play and dominance, some more obvious and blatant than others but all effective in their own way. Whether using sexuality, language or plain old fashioned violence, each character is working to assert themselves and gain dominance by whichever means possible. With all that need or desire for control, there is really only one way the story can end. In a bloomin’ humdinger of a showdown of course.
If you like a good (very) old fashioned Detective story wit a gruff protagonist and some ingenious plotting, give this one a try. It’s a good ‘un.
My thanks to Graham Smith and publishers Caffeine Nights for the advance copy of When The Waters Recede for review. it is available now from the following retailers:
About the author
Graham Smith is a time served joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.
He is an internationally best-selling Kindle author and has four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, and three novels, featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.
An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009
Graham is the founder of Crime and Publishment, a weekend of crime-writing classes which includes the chance for attendees to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. Since the first weekend in 2013, eight attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts.
Giveaway (links to external site – requires subscription)
To celebrate the release of When the Waters Recede, Graham Smith is offering one lucky reader the chance to win all six books in the Harry Evans series.
To enter, simply sign up for his newsletter via the link provided before the 5th of June 2018 and you’ll be entered into not just this competition, but all competitions that he runs. Entrants from the whole world are welcome.
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