Review: Our Lady of Pain by Elena Forbes

Our Lady of Pain is the second novel from Elena Forbes to feature the crime investigating activities of a London-based murder squad headed by DI Mark Tataglia who is ably supported by DS Samantha Donovan. The book opens on a Sunday afternoon as Tataglia is called away from lunch with his sister and her family (and a friend who she is trying to fix her brother up with) to Holland Park where a woman’s bound body has been discovered. The woman, Rachel Tennison, was an art dealer who on the surface would have no reason to find herself the target of a murderer but when the police start digging into her life they find she had more than a few secrets.

What follows is a classic procedural in which there are many interviews (albeit of the same few people who are prompted to reveal a few more details on each visit from the police) and wading through of large quantities of evidence trying to ascertain which things are important. At one point Tataglia’s team are alerted by a journalist to a possible linkage to another similar crime from a year or so previously and Simon Turner, a policeman who worked that case, is co-opted into Tataglia’s team much to the annoyance of both men.

The procedural elements of this novel are reasonably compelling (if a little drawn out at times) as is the balance between the personal and professional lives of Tataglia and his team. Both Tataglia and Donovan seem to be pretty normal people without the long list of foibles and addictions that many fictional police seem to have. Then again the interloper Turner makes up for that as I found him quite unrealistic from the outset. The real problem for me though was the ending was quite disappointing and not just because I predicted it a fair way out. I guess I am always a little disappointed when an otherwise intelligent woman, in this case Sam Donovan, puts herself in a perilous situation that blind Freddy could have seen would end badly. I later learned that a similar thing happened at the end of the first novel, which I have not read, as well which makes it all just that little bit worse.

I think fans of English procedurals in general will like the novel, especially in its audio form as Ric Jerrom is a superb narrator, though I probably wouldn’t recommend it for die-hard crime fans who will, I think spot a few too many of the genre’s clichés which the author has not really troubled to hide at all.

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Our Lady of Pain has also been reviewed at Petrona and Reviewing the Evidence

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My rating 3/5
Narrator Ric Jerrom
Publisher BBC WW [2009]
ISBN N/A (downloaded from audible.com)
Length 12 hours 18 minutes
Format audio (mp3)
Source I bought it

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4 Responses to Review: Our Lady of Pain by Elena Forbes

  1. Kerrie says:

    I’m listening to this at present

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  2. Bernadette – Thanks; a terrific review. I know what you mean about using some of those tried-and-true cliches. I’m always a bit disappointed, too, when I stumble across them. And yes, if it happens in more than one novel, one must wonder if it’s more than one moment of weakness..

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  3. kathy durkin says:

    This is too bad. It’s hard to read an otherwise good book with these weaknesses. I guess I’ll pass.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    I am not fond of the damsel who puts herself in distress either, and I think that title is off-putting.

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