E- and audiobook reviews: Fiction
Patricia Cornwell is one of those writers who, we are constantly informed, has just returned to form. This has not always been borne out: her recent work (especially novels with the name "Scarpetta" in the title) has tended to be more intriguing than thrilling. The Bone Bed, however, does feel like Cornwell back to her bona fide best. For once, Kay Scarpetta has no idea why she is working on a case: in this instance, a dinosaur bone arrives on her in-tray out of the blue. Soon, this ancient bone is connected to human bones - of a palaeontologist who has been working in the titular "bone bed" in Alberta. When a second corpse is found in Boston harbour, snared to a rare species of turtle, Scarpetta links these two deaths to a third missing woman. Could a serial killer be at work? This tight plot is, as ever, tied to the private lives of Scarpetta and her gang. When they are not cross with Scarpetta, almost everyone - Kay's husband Benton Wesley, her niece Lucy and detective Pete Marino - is being secretive. Top drawer entertainment.
Say You're Sorry
by Michael Robotham (narrated by Sean Barrett)
Audible Ltd (audiobook)
Michael Robotham lives in Australia, but sets his unflinching thrillers in England, where he worked for many years as a journalist. Given the current furore in that country (a well-known television celebrity has been revealed as a paedophile), Say You're Sorry feels timely in the grimmest of ways. Robotham's regular hero, Joe O'Loughlin, is a clinical psychologist with a specialism in child abuse. Piper Hadley and her best friend Natasha McBain are kidnapped and brutally tortured for three years. When Piper manages to escape the nightmarish cellar of her captor, she promises to return for "Tash". Told partly from Piper's perspective (read with sympathy by Sean Barrett), the story follows their treatment at the hands of George, their perception in the press and the race to rescue "Tash". Barrett reads Piper with the same commitment he gives to O'Loughlin. The ensuing exploration of class, sexuality, and women's status in society is impressive. Tough going, but Say You're Sorry is worth it.
by C.J. Sansom (read by Daniel Weyman)
MacMillan Digital Audio (audiobook)
It's a real pea-souper in C.J. Sansom's Dominion. Having wowed readers with his gripping mysteries set in the 16th century, Sansom has fast forwarded to London in the middle of the last. Only, this isn't 1952 as we know it. As with Robert Harris' Fatherland, Dominion presents an alternate history. Whereas Harris imagined a world in which Hitler defeated Churchill, Sansom's Churchill is defeated by the appeaser Lord Halifax. The result is a practically fascist British government led by Lord Beaverbrook and Oswald Mosley, but ruled by powerful German Nazis. Against this background, David Fitzgerald participates in a growing resistance movement (under Churchill), when he is not undertaking his day job as a civil servant in the "Dominions Office". Sansom links this plot to one involving Frank Muncaster, a scientist who may have discovered some world-altering technology. Daniel Weyman emerges from the smog with clear, vibrant narration.