Today’s book review of a crime novel is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey.
The Woman In Black by Kerry Wilkinson
Synopsis: Someone has left a severed hand in the centre of Manchester and the only clue Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniel has to go on is CCTV footage of a woman in a long black robe placing it carefully on the ground. With a lengthy missing persons list and frantic families wondering if the body part could belong to their absent loved ones, she has plenty to deal with – and that’s before a detached finger arrives for her in the post. By the time a second hand is found and a local MP’s wife goes missing, Jessica is left struggling to find out who the appendages belong to, how they are connected and just what the mysterious woman in black has to do with it all.
Author bio (from Amazon): Despite two British national newspaper reports to the contrary, Kerry Wilkinson is male. Honestly. His debut, Locked In, the first in the detective Jessica Daniel series, is a UK no.1 Kindle bestseller, with the first three Jessica Daniel books making him Amazon UK’s top-selling author for the final quarter of 2011. Think Of The Children came out in February 2013, outselling Dan Brown to become Amazon UK’s no.1 Kindle pre-order, making the top 10 crime ebooks, and entering the official top 20 paperback chart. Kerry is the first formerly self-published British author to have an ebook no.1 and reach the top 20 of the UK paperback chart. With Playing With Fire, Thicker Than Water, Behind Closed Doors and standalone dark thriller, Watched, Kerry has had eight consecutive top-20 UK Kindle crime books. In July 2014, Griffin will publish Reckoning, the first novel in Kerry’s young adult / fantasy / adventure series – the Silver Blackthorn trilogy. He is an occasional sports journalist and can frequently be spotted cycling the hills of Lancashire while trying not to be knocked off. Please drive safely around him. He was born in Somerset but now lives in the northwest. Find out more at: http://kerrywilkinson.com, http://facebook.com/JessicaDanielBooks.
I listened to this novel while driving to / from Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, July 2014, so it won’t be as thorough as I normally do but this is the general gist…
As with all good crime novels, the body (or in this case, a part of a body) comes early in the book and we’re introduced to the main character, DS Jessica Daniel* quickly. *not Daniels as in some of the Amazon reviews (you know what I’m like about getting names right!) Unlike some police detectives, she has a fairly uncomplicated personal life; the most challenging issue currently being a bridesmaid for her best friend, Caroline (the event itself doesn’t go without a hitch). Other characters include Izzy Diamond (a great DC), DC David Rowlands (I think he and Jessica will get together by the end of the series, although he has a girlfriend) and their ever-cool boss.
There are slivers of humour throughout the novel with Jessica’s much-contested driving being one of them.
The series is set mainly in Manchester and although I’ve been there a couple of times, the descriptions are snappy and engaging.
There aren’t many gripes about this book but repetition, as if often the way with me, is one of them. We have a couple of characters sniggering but generally, the characters are great. I only noticed one inconsistency: a robbery suspect had no solicitor in one scene but then has one when we return to her two scenes later, with no mention of the solicitor appearing. Technically this shouldn’t matter but because it had been mentioned specifically that she had no representation (which made the process slow) and then she did. Some of the Amazon reviews pick up on typos, grammatical mistakes etc but you don’t get that listening to a book and I’m glad I didn’t, which is another reason (as well as being able to multi-task) why I love them.
With audiobooks, the experience is often swayed by the narrator. I’d not come across Becky Hindley before but will pick her out for other audiobooks (just as I’ve avoided Lindsay Crouse in other Patricia Cornwell audiobooks – see my review on https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1018382.Postmortem).
This is the first of Kerry Wilkinson’s I’ve read (listened to) and I have the follow-up ‘Think of the Children’ on audiobook. I really enjoyed ‘The Woman in Black’ so that’s up next.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor / critiquer, Chair of NWG (which runs the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition), Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition and creative writing tutor for her local county council. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page). She also recently created five online writing groups and an interview-only blog.
Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has six others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.
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