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Thursday 11 August 2022

‘West Country Murder’ by Derek Thompson

Published by Joffe Books,
24 January 2022.
ISBN: 978-1-80405-080-4 (PB)

Craig Wild is beginning to settle into his new life as a detective sergeant in a small Wiltshire town, though it’s very different from his previous one in the Met. But murder happens even in the West Country, and Craig finds himself embroiled in one during a day off at a literary festival. 

Sometimes helped and often hindered by his new colleagues, he sets about getting to the bottom of several mysteries surrounding the victim. When his body was found he was clutching a book by a well-known author; why does she deny all knowledge of him? Why does it appear that he is using a fake name? And why had he travelled all the way from Lincolnshire to attend the festival?

Craig’s nickname at the police station is Wild Card, and not without good reason. He doesn’t hesitate to go off piste if the conventional route isn’t moving the investigation forward, even though he is tasked with mentoring PC Marnie Olsen, a bright and mettlesome young woman with ambitions to become a detective. He has worked with Marnie before, and though they’re very different they get on well – though rather less well with his boss, the formidable D I Marsh.

The twisty plot soon thickens into something to match any case Craig was involved in during his time with the Met. Organized crime, drug dealing, arson, blackmail and attempted abduction all figure strongly; and the murder at the festival isn’t the last. But between Marnie’s psychology, Marsh’s attention to detail and procedure and Craig’s own maverick tendency, they triumph in the end, and sometimes even co-operate instead of working against each other.

Craig Wild is far from unique in the annals of crime fiction, but he’s what might be described as a bit of a character, so he has a certain appeal. The result is a decent, workmanlike  police procedural with plenty to please fans of the genre.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Derek Thompson grew up in London and started writing fiction in his teens. After spending a year in the US, he returned to London and subsequently moved to the West Country. He wrote a commissioned piece for The Guardian in 2008 and entered the world of freelance writing in 2009. His love of film noir and thrillers began with The Big Sleep, and has never left him. Much of his fiction involves death, data or secrets. As the saying goes: write about what you know. He writes about Thomas Bladen and his role in the Surveillance Support Unit. His books have been described as snarky (yes, it’s a real word), pared down, and morally ambiguous. What more could any novelist ask for? Apart from pens — you can never have too many pens.

 Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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