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Thursday 20 January 2022

‘Almost a Whisper’ by Priscilla Masters

Published by Severn House,
30 December 2021.
ISBN: 978-0-7278-5083-6 (HB)

The opening of the 15th book in the DI Joanna Piercy series finds her a touch discombobulated. She is now married to pathologist Matthew Levin and has given birth to a son Jakob.  But the realities of parenthood are taking its toll on Joanna. The demands of being a Detective Inspector are not a 9-5pm job.  Luckily, Matthews parents have moved within a short distance of where they live and are now providing day care for their grandchild.  Although the tensions still exist between Joanna and Matthews daughter by his first marriage, and sadly also with her in-laws.

On Joanna’s arrival at work, she is called to the front desk where a man dressed in hiking gear is hyperventilating. Jeremy Western explains that he was walking across The Roaches, a steep rock face on the Staffordshire moors when he saw a girl pushing a pushchair towards the edge of the cliff looking to all intents and purposes that she is about to push the child off the cliff.  But he managed to stop her.  So, for Joanna begins a strange case.  Initially trying to interview the girl to ascertain what she was doing, provokes nothing but a blank stare. Is she deaf and dumb? Or is she traumatized, or just unwilling to speak? No matter how she phrases her questions the blank empty expression in the woman’s eyes does not change

Neither she nor the child appear to be injured. She has no handbag, no coat, and no belongings with her, in fact nothing to give them any clue as to who she is or where she has come from.  Is the child hers or has she taken him? Without a name Joanna’s team start to trawl through missing persons, but no one seems to fit the bill.

Eventually after exploring several avenues, they call in forensic psychiatrist Dr Claire Roget to see if she can help. Can she persuade the woman to talk?

Apart from the challenges of new motherhood Joanna is missing her trusty side-kick Mike Korpanski.  Despite a shacky start when they first met their relationship has developed over the years into a strong friendship. Joanna is still guilt-ridden that the deliberate running over of DS Mike Korpanski had somehow been her fault because it was connected with the case she was working on.  But now after six operations Mike is finally walking again but with crutches. At least he had kept his leg which it was thought at one time might have to be amputated.  Now a couple of times a week she braves his wife Fran, who blames her entirely for what happened to her husband. Squaring her shoulders, she sets off to talk the case through with Mike.

I love a good mystery, and that is what this is ‘A good mystery’. One of those that keeps you guessing, and turning pages. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett.

Priscilla Masters was born in Halifax, and brought up in South Wales, one of seven multi-racial children adopted by an orthopaedic surgeon and his Classics graduate wife. Priscilla trained as a registered nurse in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. She moved to Staffordshire in the 1970s, had an antiques business for a while and two sons. She started writing in the 1980s in response to an aunt asking her what she was going to do with her life! Winding up the Serpent was her first Joanna Piercy story, published in 1995.  Although that series is still continuing the latest Crooked Street published 2016, she has also written several medical standalones and a new series featuring coroner Martha Gunn, set in Shrewsbury. Her latest book is Deceiver a psychological thriller featuring Dr Claire Roget who is a forensic psychiatrist who has some very unpredictable patients. It is set in Stoke on Trent. 

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