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, 15 June 2017. ISBN: 978-1-4091-5279-8 (PB)
The maverick cop is a staple of crime fiction, but once in a while the
avid reader comes across a protagonist who takes the description to a whole new
level. Detective Sergeant Fiona Griffiths of the South Wales Police goes even
further; she's a loner (though growing less so as the series progresses), a
disciplinary nightmare (and growing more so, ditto) and often a danger to
herself, but she's so brilliant and so successful that senior officers who
can't work with her get themselves transferred so she can stay with Major Crime
and solve the tricky cases.
The Deepest Grave is her sixth adventure (a word Fiona also takes to a
whole new level), and the case is so complex and bizarre that author Harry
Bingham almost has to apologize in a note at the end. Only almost; he explains
his reasoning, and I for one was completely convinced.
Whether or not you'll be
convinced by Fiona depends on your view of crime fiction. If you like the
gritty, down-to-earth, every-day-on-the-streets kind: the Chandleresque model,
as Bingham describes it – well, there's a certain amount of that. But her real
appeal is probably to the Sherlock Holmes school of fandom: unlikely plots with
plenty of twists and turns and off-the-wall happenings, and an investigation
which follows a path for which only Fiona has a map, and owes nothing to either
convention or procedure.
In Fiona's cases, there's a
body round every corner, a surprise every fifty pages or so, and half-clues
dropped liked confetti for the reader to pick up and tuck away for later. Fiona
herself is a one-off to beat all one-offs, and gathers around herself an
unlikely crew of allies: in this case a PhD student with motor neurone disease,
a gun-toting Welsh vicar and his dog, a verbose church librarian and a group of
archaeologists. Oh, and her dad, possibly Wales's most notorious unconvicted
master criminal. The boss who appreciates her unique qualities is away, and she
falls foul of a detective inspector who plays very much by the rules; at once
point I wondered if she was about to decamp to Oxford to escape his rod of
And the crime? To describe it
would give too much away. Suffice to say it starts with a murder involving a
sword, three spears and an ancient box with a distinctive design. There's
burglary, a hostage situation, forgery of a very specialized kind, and a lot of
action which requires swift travel from one part of the UK to another to get
there before the bad guys. Fortunately Fiona drives very fast indeed.
Immersing myself in one of
Fiona's cases is like visiting another world. It's not always comfortable, but
it's invariably utterly amazing. As Harry Bingham says himself, you never know
quite where the story will end up. And that, surely, is the true meaning of
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Harry Binghamis the author of the Fiona Griffiths series of crime
novels, set in Cardiff and featuring a heroine described by the Sunday Times as
'The most startling protagonist in modern crime fiction ... brutal, freakish
and totally original.' Harry - slightly less freakish than his creation - lives
in Oxford with his wife and young family. He also runs The Writers' Workshop,
an editorial consultancy for new writers. His books on Getting Published and
How to Write are among the leading titles in their field. H 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.