Friday, 22 January 2010

Grimy Cosy Crime

The first read of the new year was by an author who is new to me.  I am aware that Ann Granger has written a number of different crime/cosy series (with the Mitchell and Markby series appearing to be the most popular) but I was first drawn to this one as it is set in the Cotswolds.

I love reading cosy crime books (or any other books for that matter) that are set in places that I have visted or that spur me on to travel to those places.  I first visited the Cotswolds after reading a few of M. C. Beaton's Agatha Raisin series so this book promised to conjure up familiar images of that pretty, rolling countryside.

And it did! albeit initially in a muddy way.  We are introduced to Lucas Burton, a shady businessman, who initially discovers the body of a young woman at his rendez-vous point in an abandoned barn on Cricket Farm.  He panics and flees from the scene but not before being spotted by a local and scraping his silver mercedes on a post.  Jess Campbell (a thirty-something police inspector) is called in to investigate the discovery and we are introduced to a number of characters who all seem to have something to hide.  Throw in an old family murder on Cricket Farm, and the only surviving relative talking to ghosts, and we have an interesting setup.

Mud, Muck and Dead Things is the first instalment in the Campbell and Carter series and as such is a good, solid introduction to the new characters. I found it to be well written with colourful descriptions of the Cotswold countryside and country folk. It seemed perfectly paced and we don't get too bogged down in police procedure. I was a little reticent at diving into this book at first as the protagonists are part of the police force and I prefer my detectives to be amateurs, enabling them to snoop freely and break all kinds of rules that bobbies are usually restricted by. Never-the-less, this novel is not a police procedural and fits firmly into the cosy genre.

This novel tends to portray more of Inspector Jess Campbell than her new boss, Superintendent Ian Carter, and I assume that Granger will be developing his character and their relationship in upcoming novels.  Sadly, a quick search on Amazon did not reveal any forthcoming Carter and Campbell novels on the horizon although Granger has another instalment in a different series lined up for this year.

I will look out for the next instalment and may even try the first book in her Lizzie Martin series, set in Victorian London, as the heroine of the piece appears interesting and a bit if a trail blazer.


lyn said...

I loved Ann Granger's Mitchell & Markby series but haven't been as interested in her other series until I read MM&DT last year. I'm looking forward to the next one. There was quite a lot of setting up characters of course as there must be with a new series but she writes well & it will be on my list for this year.

Rochester Reader said...

Hi Lyn

If you loved the M & M series, I think I should give it a try. I noticed that most of her fan base lies in that direction. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of writing and find it such a breath of fresh air. Although I love the Agatha Raisin series, the quality of writing (and in some cases plot) of the later instalments does not live up to the early books. Sometimes a promising story can be ruined by poor, simplistic prose. Happily, this was most certainly not the case with MM&DT.

I will certainly be on the lookout for more by Ann Granger - it's great when authors are this prolific... so much to look forward to :-)