Jumping the Cracks
by Victoria Blake Orion, HK$105
In the days when Inspector Morse trod the beat, Oxford was second only to Los Angeles as the murder capital of the world. Where LA had the Crips and the Bloods, Oxford had frustrated chaplains, annoyed crossword puzzle-setters and serial killers who tried to poison their fellow humans using real ale. Then Morse popped off and the city went quiet. Unfortunately for Oxford, a new detective is on the scene and the body count is piling up again. One obvious response is to wonder if the officers of the law aren't doing all the killing. In Victoria Blake's case, this means PI Sam Falconer, a feisty former judo world champion who also possesses the most repressed English family outside Windsor. Now on her third case, Falconer is asked to guard a strange collection of antiques at the Pitt Rivers Museum, which includes shrunken heads and bottled witches. She does this rather mundane task to pay the taxman, but is soon involved in a peculiar mystery surrounding a chihuahua, a murdered woman and her own violent childhood. Jumping the Cracks is fairly readable, but one note of caution: there is a gratuitous reference to dreaming spires.