The second novel by Jackie Fullarton featuring aspiring lawyer and amateur sleuth Anne Marshall was provided to me by the publisher in the hope that I would review it.
When Professor Elliot Spence is killed by a hit and run driver the police decide it wasn’t an accident and soon fix on his wife, Kathy, as the killer. As they don’t appear inclined to look any further for a culprit Kathy’s friend Shirley, convinced her friend is not guilty, asks Anne Marshall to see if she can find any evidence to help prove Kathy’s innocence. Anne is a court reporter who works with Shirley and is also a law student. Having solved a previous murder case she willingly becomes involved in this investigation with the added incentive that Elliot Spence was a friend of her now deceased father. Anne is helped out by her boyfriend, her law school study group and the pipe-smoking ghost of her father.
Despite revealing that Elliot’s killer must be one of only two people very early on there is a good deal of suspense provided in building up the evidence of Kathy’s innocence, revealing the reasons behind the crime and seeing what other horrors Kathy’s enemies have in store for her and her supporters. The action speeds along at a good clip with the result that the book is a quick read that doesn’t get bogged down in unnecessary detail. The ending has enough nail-biting moments to suit all readers.
Anne Marshall is a likeable young woman with a believable motive for becoming involved in the investigation and having a group of sleuths helping her out made it more realistic than if she’d acted alone. They are a fun bunch of characters to get to know too. The people plotting separately against Kathy, both of whom are supposedly her friends, are also well depicted with their selfish desperation and increasing madness. I do love reading a good psychotic breakdown.
The use of Anne’s father’s ghost was OK up to a point but, for me, it went a bit too far. To be fair to the author I’m pretty skeptical about what I cool ‘woo woo’ elements in any story. I found the idea of Anne talking the case through with her father credible enough but at quite a few points he becomes actively involved in the story, sitting in on a police interview then reporting what he heard back to Anne and sending life-saving text messages for example. I prefer my fictional ghosts to be a bit more ethereal as in the case of Charles Todd’s Inspector Rutledge novels which feature the ghost of one of Rutledge’s former soldiers who inhabits the Inspector’s thoughts but doesn’t venture out to do any investigating of his own. My only other minor quibble was that the police were depicted as dolts and that always grates a little with me as it never adds to the credibility of the story.
Revenge Served Cold is a light, lively read with clever characters that will suit fans of cosy mysteries and puzzling whodunits. If you’re less cynical than I am (and it’s a fair bet that most of you are) about a paranormal slant to your reading there’s even more for you to enjoy.
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My rating 3/5 or 3.5/5 if you’re a little less skeptical about ghostly intrusions in your stories than I am
Publisher: Thomas House Publishing ; ISBN 9780884381500; Length: 287 pages
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