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Saturday 9 October 2021

‘Game of Bones’ by Geraldine Evans

Published by Solo Books,
1st September 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-91641577-5 (PB)

This is the eighteenth in this author’s Rafferty and Llewellyn series and is set on their home turf of Essex. This time the administrator of the local university, Rupert Hunter-Yorke, has been found dead, his throat cut by a deliberately sharpened paper-knife. His colleague, Professor Anthony Babbington has been charged with Hunter-Yorke’s murder – hardly surprising since Hunter-Yorke’s blood has been found on Babbington’s dress-shirt (the latter had been attending a formal function that night) and his fingerprints on the murder weapon. All perfectly straightforward. Even the Crown Prosecution Service, on the basis of the evidence, is prepared to proceed with the trial. Rafferty is pleased; the sooner the case is wrapped up, the more time he can spend with his wife Abra and his adored baby daughter Neeve. But Llewellyn isn’t so sure; he thinks that Rafferty is too quick to rush to judgment and the case warrants further consideration. So, Rafferty dumps the case in Llewellyn’s lap and, convinced that there is nothing new to be found, tells him to go ahead if he wants.

Meanwhile, Rafferty will investigate a spate of muggings that have been taking place in the town but whereas in the Babbington case there is just the one obvious suspect, there are no obvious leads in the mugging case; none of the victims can identify a possible assailant. One victim, a graphic artist, could possibly draw a likeness but he was so traumatised by his experience that he cannot bring himself to do so. But another victim states that the perpetrator was young and well-spoken although his voice was overlaid with a local accent. That points to a university student. But there are over 10,000 of those and interviewing them all is not practicable. Moreover, while the evidence against Babbington is overwhelming, Rafferty, who is instinctively on the side of the underdog even an underdog as arrogant and unpleasant as Babbington, is beginning to wonder if he could have been set up after all although Llewellyn is becoming more and more aware of just how strong the evidence against Babbington is. And could there be a connection between the two crimes, the murder and the muggings?

The bedrock of this book is the relationship between Rafferty and Llewellyn. The two have strongly differentiated characters: Rafferty went into the police aged 16 and received no further formal education. He comes from a close-knit Irish working-class family and his approach to crime-solving stems from instinct and long experience. But Llewellyn, with his double First from Cambridge and his Methodist background, has a highly cerebral approach to problems. The two bicker constantly yet beneath the bickering the relationship is warm and respectful – each knows that the two of them, working together, can solve crimes that neither, working alone, could.

This is a really enjoyable traditional crime story with touches of humour which readers who enjoy the novels of Ann Granger, M.C. Beaton and Rebecca Tope will certainly appreciate. Not only is the relationship between Rafferty and Llewellyn highly entertaining but there are a number of characters who are well-drawn and lively. Much recommended.

Reviewer: Radmila May

Geraldine Evans is a British writer of police procedurals that contain a lot of humour and family drama.  Her18-strong Rafferty & Llewellyn series features DI Joe Rafferty, a London-Irish, working-class, lapsed Catholic, who comes from a family who think - if he must be a policeman - he might at least have the decency to be a bent one. Her 2-strong Casey & Catt series features DCI 'Will' Casey, a serious-minded, responsible policeman, whose 'the Sixties never died', irresponsible, drug-taking, hippie parents, pose particular problems of the embarrassing kind.

Radmila May was born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice. Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology – and is now concentrating on her own writing.

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