I should start this post by wishing James Oswald a very happy publication day as Nothing to Hide, book two in the Constance Fairchild series, is out today. I am quite happy about this fact, and look forward to (hopefully) arriving home to my physical copy today. I was quite a lucky gal though as I managed to get hold of an advance copy, courtesy of publisher Wildfire Books. Cue smiley faced Jen then. Before I tell you what I thought of the book, here’s the all important book bits:
About the Book
Suspended from duty after her last case ended in the high-profile arrest of one of Britain’s wealthiest men, DC Constance Fairchild is trying to stay away from the limelight. Fate has other ideas . . .
Coming home to her London flat, Constance stumbles across a young man, bloodied, mutilated and barely alive. She calls it in and is quickly thrown into the middle of a nationwide investigation . . . It seems that the victim is just the latest in a string of similar ritualistic attacks.
No matter that she is off-duty, no matter that there are those in the Met who would gladly see the back of her, Con can’t shake her innate determination to bring the monsters responsible for this brutality to justice.
Trouble always seems to find her, and even if she has nothing to hide, perhaps she has everything to lose . . .Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books
About the Book
If there is anyone who deserves a little bit of a break, it is Con Fairchild. If there is anyone highly unlikely to get one, that would also be Con Fairchild. In the first of the series, Con found herself at the heart of a massive case, steeped in scandal, one which brought down not only a well known business men but also a number of her colleagues from the Met Police. Far from being hailed a hero, as star witness for the prosecution, she finds herself ostracised by her colleagues and forced into hiding in Scotland. From very early in the book it is clear that she might have been better off staying put north of the border as soon after her return to her London flat, Con finds herself caught in yet another dark and disturbing case.
So far, so ordinary. It’s a police based mystery when all is said and done. What kind of mystery would it be without a perplexing case to solve? And this is one perplexing case as it is clear from the off that this is more than just a case of another young man being stabbed on a London street. The victims injuries are severe, but also indicative of an alarming pattern of murders which had been occurring across the country. And not just any killing, but seemingly linked to the practice of – how should I put this? – Alternative medicine. And this is just the start. As the story progresses it takes a very dark and, perhaps surprising turn, one which shows that it is perhaps not quite in Mr Oswald’s repertoire to ever write a ‘straight’ police procedural. And, hell, would we really want him to?
I have loved getting to know the character of Con Fairchild. Strong, straight talking and very independent, she is the complete opposite of Mr O’s other great creation, Di Tony McLean, but she is still someone I love to read about. The styling of the book is different too, told in first person – not a small ask in attempting create a convincing female voice, but one which I feel he has managed perfectly. Con is not particularly feminine, but she is someone, god help her, I can actually identify with. Although my life is a lot less dramatic or deadly than Con’s thank heavens. And my family aren’t remotely as wealthy, or (quite) as dysfunctional as Con’s, although we’d probably have given her a run for her money were my parents still alive …
Fans of the Di McLean series will be having a good old chuckle as they read this book. Not only do we see the return of Madame Rose, but this time, as Con heads back to Scotland to lay low – i.e. chase a lead in the murder cases – she is joined by two other regulars from the series, Janie Harrison and Grumpy Bob Laird. I love Grumpy Bob. He may not have been in the story long, but his presence was welcomed. It perhaps the most physical work I can actually remember him doing though, so I guess there has to be a balance somewhere …
One thing I have always loved about James Oswald’s writing, aside from the tendency to take a normal(ish) situation and give it a more supernatural or occult based twist, it is the development of character. The way in which he has developed Con and the people around her, especially PC Karen Eve, Con’s neighbour, Mrs Feltham, and Superintendent Diane Shepherd, has made them all characters you become completely invested in. And it is great to see a strong contingent of bold and focused female characters at the heart of the book, and I include Madame Rose in that statement. Even when it comes down to the people on the wrong side of the law, the way in which they have been portrayed oozes menace and threat. You can feel your skin crawl and sense the unease that grows whenever in their presence. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind as to who should not be trusted, long before suspicions were confirmed, but the ending still managed to deliver a surprise or two, for the reader as well as for Con.
This was yet another top read from this author. It blends good humour, great character, topical themes such as the current abundance and rise in use of spice as a recreational, and truly debilitating, drug, cunning plotting and all while tipping a nod to the faithful readers. If you are looking for a straight, no-nonsense police procedural with a very formulaic process, then this may not be the book for you. Whilst not as overtly otherworldly as the McLean series, it does border on, if not quite the inexplicable, then most certainly the more unorthodox, and I love it. I’m just waiting for the day when James Oswald pulls off a full on mash up of his two series as this would be utopia. The ground work has been laid. Here’s hoping it’s only a matter of time.
A top read and definitely recommended.
About the Author
JAMES OSWALD is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling Inspector McLean series of detective mysteries, as well as the new DC Constance Fairchild series. James’s first two books, NATURAL CAUSES and THE BOOK OF SOULS, were both short-listed for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award. AS COLD AS THE GRAVE is the ninth book in the Inspector Mclean Series.
James farms Highland cows and Romney sheep by day, writes disturbing fiction by night.