As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Orion, 9 July 2015. ISBN: 978-1-4091-5271-2 (TPB)
When I first encountered Fiona Griffiths, Harry Bingham’s somewhat
unusual detective constable in the South Wales police, I didn’t know whether to
gasp in admiration at her brilliance and unorthodox methods, or suspend
disbelief rather further than usual in order to accept that she would ever have
been taken into the police force at all, given her medical history and personal
In the end, I did both, and settled
down to enjoy a pacy, twisty story peopled with well-drawn characters, some of
them as offbeat and unlikely as Fiona herself.
Four books into the series,
nothing has changed. Fiona is still in recovery from Cotard’s Syndrome, a form
of mental illness which, among other things, leaves sufferers dissociated from
the real world. Her maverick brain doesn’t work in quite the same way was most
people’s, which is good news for any investigation she undertakes, but bad news
for real-life situations like shopping and relationships. Her father is
arguably one of South Wales’s most successful unconvicted criminals, and more
hints about his activities emerge here.Despite all this, she is still a serving police officer, and has little
truck with doing things by the book – though she does try, because she wants to
keep her job. Fortunately her senior officers, stern DI Dennis Jackson and
eccentric DI Rhiannon Watkins, know when not to ask questions.
Harry Bingham not only
convinces the reader, this one anyway, that all of the above is possible; he
also gets under his protagonist’s skin in a way few authors achieve, and his
use of first-person narration pulls the reader in there with him, so that her
skewed way of seeing the world feels almost normal. After all, why wouldn’t she
get 78% in her sergeant’s exam after no revision when the average is 50%?
This time Fiona is
investigating cold cases, an apparently impossible burglary and a suicide which
she is convinced is murder, alongside the tedious routine job of her
nightmares: collecting and logging forensic evidence in a rape case. She spots
a possible link between the cold cases which no one else has seen, and bingo,
we’re off-piste and on another journey into the South Wales underworld. Only
Fiona Griffiths would connect an apartment in Bristol and the theft of valuable
paintings on the Gower Peninsula with an art student in London, a climbing
school in Snowdonia and a fishing trawler in Milford Haven. And uncover a major
financial scam while she was about it.
The fact is, the police force
needs less bureaucracy and more Fionas; that way connections would be made and
crimes would be solved. But Fiona Griffiths is a one-off, and a fictional one
at that. Pity, though.
She even solves the rape
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Bingham is forty-something, married and lives in Oxfordshire. He
runs The Wruters Workshop.Formerly a
banker, is now full-time writer. Enjoys rock-climbing, walking, and swimming.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.