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Thursday, 5 April 2018

‘Hostage To Fortune’ by Carolyn McCrae


Published by Matador,
28 January 2018.
ISBN 978-1-78803785-3 (PB)

Hostage to Fortune is a delightfully easy read.  It follows the well-worn path of using a couple of clever amateurs to explain a situation that has been puzzling the professionals, in this case security officers in the Home office, for many a long year. Our amateurs, Skye and Fergal Shepherd, are a young and highly competitive couple.  They have been married for just over a year and neither is yet keen to admit who is top dog.

This is the second time the youngsters have been employed by the Home Office. Once again the situation they are asked to investigate - the disappearance of Diane Hammill, the keeper of a safe house in Devon - is related to, but is by no means the precise conundrum that needs solving.

Right from the start it is obvious that with all the resources available to them the security services and the police must know the answers to the various crimes such as: the murder of  Warwick Eden, a rich far-right politician; the suicide/murder of young man whose father has been wrongly accused of, and then imprisoned for injuring a policeman by Warwick’s elder brother Barford; a gay man who is killed when sailing with Warwick’s nephew, etc that are dangled in front of our young heroes. But do they receive any help? Oh no.
  
After they had worked out the intricate connections between the above crimes and have decided who has killed whom, Fergal and Skye are still not satisfied that they have solved the elusive riddle that they have been set.  Against specific instructions to the contrary they travel to Spain where much, but not all, is explained. Indeed, Skye and Fergal succeed in revealing the answer to the real question the Home Office wanted answering without either them or us even realizing that they had done so. It is only right at the end of the book that we, along with the amateur youngsters learn why they were sent off to wade through a veritable labyrinth of crime that had its roots in the history of the Spanish civil war.  It is neither a question nor an answer that you would guess, so if you want to know what it is you will have to read the book.

There are many strands in this book. The interlinking stories of the main characters are told separately before they gradually coalesce into a comprehensive whole. Skye and Fergal are an entertaining couple whose natural tendency towards insubordination is more than fully manipulated by Gordon Hamilton, their devious controller at the Home Office.
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Reviewer Angela Crowther

Carolyn McCrae was born in West Kirby on the Wirral when it was in Cheshire not on Merseyside. Having moved at least 13 times in the past 20 years she is now living in Dartmouth (Devon, England not Massachusetts, USA) with her husband Colin. Writing (whilst following the fortunes - or otherwise - of Liverpool Football Club and the English Cricket team) is now her career of preference after 33 years working in the marketing data management business she founded in 1983. An Archers-Addict of 55 years, she is currently taking a sabbatical from Ambridge while the Helen/Rob storyline plays out. In 2007 she won The David St John Thomas Prize for Self-published Fiction for her novel, The Last Dance, the first title in The Iniquities Trilogy so she can truthfully describe herself as a 'Prize-winning author'.


Angela Crowther is a retired scientist.  She has published many scientific papers but, as yet, no crime fiction.  In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group, goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi and Wagner.



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