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Friday 10 January 2020

‘Deathly Affair’ by Leigh Russell

Published by No Exit Press,
12 December 2019.
ISBN: 978-0-85730-301-1(PB)

Although Geraldine Steel cannot regret putting herself on the line to save her newly discovered sister, she is finding the consequences of doing so hard to endure. Because she breached police rules, she was demoted in rank from Detective Inspector to Detective Sergeant and transferred from London to York. Geraldine had comforted herself with the thought that she had one close friend in the York police force. Ian Peterson had been Geraldine’s sergeant before she moved to London and, even though he has been promoted and is now her superior officer, she had expected him to still be friendly and supportive. However, Ian has been very aloof and, although Geraldine has started to make friends with Ariadne, another detective sergeant, there are few people she can let her guard down with and she feels isolated.

When a homeless man is found murdered, Geraldine is appalled, although not surprised, by the callous contempt shown by some of her colleagues. She herself feels deeply moved by the fate of a man who was so anonymous in life and so unmourned in death. The police soon make an arrest and charge a homeless man with the murder. Even though he confesses to the crime, Geraldine is not convinced that they have got the true killer. When another homeless person is killed it becomes clear that Geraldine’s doubts were justified. Again, the police hold a suspect in custody but the evidence is all circumstantial. The tension escalates when another death occurs, although this crime is subtly different, it becomes clear that it is linked to the first two killings. Also evident that the police have got it wrong again and that they still have no idea who is responsible for these apparently random murders.

A separate strand of the narrative follows the lives of three people trapped in a toxic relationship. David is desperately attached and emotionally dependent upon his wife Ann, but she regrets their marriage and is infatuated with a younger man, Mark, who in his turn is emotionally indifferent to her and using her for sex. When the story of this ill-fated trio becomes involved with the murders of homeless men, tragedy becomes inevitable. Despite her loss of rank, Geraldine remains a superb detective, and she is determined to discover the truth, even though her dedication endangers her own life.

Deathly Affair is the thirteenth novel featuring Geraldine Steel and it is a series that continues to develop, with a protagonist that is still growing. Geraldine Steel is an admirable protagonist, a strong, independent career woman who is also courageous and caring. The plot of Deathly Affair is complex and cleverly handled, with skilful psychological insights, and the conclusion is satisfying. This is an intriguing police procedural, which I recommend.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Leigh Russell studied at the University of Kent gaining a Masters degree in English and American literature. Formerly a secondary school English teacher, with the success of her Geraldine Steel series, Leigh now writes full-time. Her debut novel, Cut Short, was published in 2009 by No Exit Press in the UK, featuring detective Geraldine Steel. There are now 11 books in the series. Leigh also writes a spinoff series for Geraldine's sergeant, Ian Peterson. Of which there are three in the series. Her latest series published by Thomas and Mercer feature Lucy Hall. Leigh Russell is married with two daughters and lives in Middlesex.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel,
The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.
To read a review of Carol latest book Strangers and Angels click on the title.

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