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Wednesday, 18 June 2014
‘The Green Remains’ by M K Graff
Published by Bridle Path Press, 2012.
I’m sure British authors who set their work in the USA make minor boo-boos which make their American readers smile; the same is certainly the case the other way round. I found myself smiling more than once as I read The Green Remains, and encountered slang and regional speech which was very nearly but not quite right, and slightly out of date aspects of life this side of the pond, like pound notes and British Rail.
But it’s a measure of a good crime writer that the smiles are not all about the bloopers. Little details like this fade into the background very quickly when there are well-drawn characters, a warm-hearted and well-observed picture of an area, and a plot that keeps you guessing but still comes to a logical conclusion.
M K Graff knows the Lake District; of that there is no doubt. I felt I knew my way around the small town of Bowness even though I’ve never been there. Her engaging cast of characters, too, left me feeling I’d made new friends – though as is the way of crime fiction, there were one or two I’d rather avoid on a dark night!
The plot proved to be nicely complex, with enough forensic detail but not too much gore; the denouement was dramatic without resorting to guns and car chases; and between hotel-keeping, furniture restoration, art, cookery, even a broken engagement, there’s plenty else going on as well, to maintain a reader’s interest.
Briefly: Nora Tierney, eight months pregnant and about to see her first children’s book in print, is staying with her friend and illustrator Simon Ramsey and his sister Kate in their pretty country house hotel on the shore of Lake Windermere. She discovers the murdered body of the son and heir of a notable local family by the lakeside, and when suspicion falls on Simon, sets about proving his innocence by finding the killer herself.
Local bad boys, incomers with an agenda, secrets from the past and conflict in the present all have a part to play, and eventually it’s Nora who is first to work out the truth, putting herself and her unborn baby in danger.
There are plenty of tense moments and a lot of sparky dialogue, and it all adds up to a fine example of the ‘cosy’ sub-genre.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
M K Graff is the award-winning author of the Nora Tierney series. Her first novel, The blue Virgin, won First Place for British Cozy in the Mystery and Mayhem Awards from Chanticleer Media. Set in the UK, Graff's series follows an American children's book writer as she manages to involve herself in police investigations. The blue Virgin, is set in Oxford, that hallowed mix of town and gown; The Green Remains takes Nora to England's glorious Lake District. Readers will be pleased to know Graff is working on Book 3 in the series, The Scarlet Wench. A native New Yorker now living in rural North Carolina, Graff is the author of essays, interviews, poetry, screenplays, as well as a second mystery series set in Manhattan. Graff also writes a weekly crime book review blog at
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.