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Thursday 22 December 2016

‘The Drowning Ground’ by James Marrison

Published by Penquin,
24 March 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-405-91693-6 (PB)

When DCI Guillermo Downes is called to a murder victim, he recognises him – the chief suspect in the disappearance of two girls a decade earlier, and the man whose wife died in a swimming pool accident just five years previously. Since then, he’s turned his mansion into a fortress – but it’s only when someone else turns it into an inferno that a skeleton is found ...

Much of this PP is narrated by DCI Guillermo Downes himself, a maverick loner in the best detective tradition. He’s Argentinian, run away to safety from the murderous junta, but still homesick for warmth, for his family, for his football team. His subordinates are wary of him – he’s got rid of three sergeants in as many months, and is known as ‘Shotgun’ – but we gradually learn the reasons behind his idiosyncracies. Other chapters are narrated by his latest sergeant, Greaves, expelled from his former station for whistle-blowing, and resenting this exile in boring rural Oxfordshire – except that between murders, arson, and reviving the case of the lost girls, the action is non-stop, and the case a gripping one for both detectives and reader. The main characters are interesting and the relationship between them convincingly drawn; the plot is clever, leading you towards the final satisfying solution without giving it away too soon.

An unusual page-turner PP with an interestingly different detective. Recommended.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

James Marrison is a journalist . Originally from the Cotswolds James now lives in Buenos Aires which provides the inspiration for the lead character , Argentinian born detective Guillermo Downes, in his debut novel The Drowning Ground.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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