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Friday 19 March 2021

‘Fatal’ by Sally Spedding

Published by Death Watch Books,
29 January 2021.
ISBN: 979-859129690-2 (TPB)

The Prologue describes a young cyclist being deliberately run down as he tries to ride over a diesel slick spread across the road. A white van was seen being driven away.

Newly promoted Lieutenant Delphine Rougier of the French Labradelle Gendarmarie goes to investigate. His name was Maurice Doucet and he delivered fresh baguettes from the local boulangerie.  Forensics are called in. Valon, Delphine's boss appoints her and Lieutenant Alonso Diaz to dig deeper into the crime.

On interviewing the owner of the boulangerie, an Agnes Lenoir, they are told that when Maurice was ten years old, he was kidnapped from Reunion – a distant French Colony, along with his two younger sisters. It happened to many young children when they were brought over to repopulate the rural areas of France and went on for some years.

Further information leads Delphine and Alonso to drive south to Belcaire where it is thought the school known as Le Refuge took in the children from Reunion. To be on the safe side they go undercover. On reaching the area they meet a Pueblo Navarro also one of the children from years ago who was taken there. They learn that it was a terrible place where they were treated very cruelly.

Le Refuge was burnt to the ground in 1985, three years after the deportations stopped. Alonso and Delphine find the site of the school and what is discovered there makes their blood run cold.

Slowly as the investigation progresses the revelations of the unbelievably cruel conditions make even the hardest of men weep. But the puzzle is, why was Maurice Doucet killed? Was he about to reveal Le Refuge's secret? If so, why now after all these years? Perhaps there was a closer personal reason for his death.

When there are more murders it certainly seems as if someone is trying to stop any more revelations. Attempts are even made on Delphine's and Alonso's lives. As if that is not enough, Delphine's own world is in turmoil not helped by the sudden change in her boss Valon's attitude towards her. They had very recently shared an intimate relationship. Why was he behaving so strangely? Has the new secretary something to do with it, or is there a more sinister reason?

By the end of the investigations Delphine's life will certainly never be the same.

My goodness, Sally Spedding has lived up to my expectations once again, even exceeded them somewhat. A very clever intricately woven plot with chilling undertones. Even the plucky and determined Delphine has trouble untangling this one!

I thoroughly enjoy this author's books and have no hesitation in highly recommending this latest one.

Reviewer: Tricia Chappell

Sally Spedding  was born by the sea near Porthcawl in Wales and trained in sculpture in Manchester and at St Martin's, London. Whilst her work was demand, Sally began to realise words can deliver so much more than any narrative sculpture or painting. Her first crime mystery, Wringland, was published in 2001 and has a strong historical thread and is set in the bleak fenland around Sutton Bridge. Her second book Cloven also invokes the past. Sally has written a further seven novels. Her strong familial connections with the Pyrenees, Germany and Holland have provided her with themes of loss and exclusion. The dark side of people, and landscape. The deceptive exterior, the snake in the grass are all themes which recur in her writing. In 2018 she started a series featuring DI John Lyon. There are three books in the series. More recently she has a series set in France featuring Lieutenant Delphine Rougier of the French Labradelle Gendarmarie. There are four books in this series.

Tricia Chappell
. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.



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