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Wednesday 15 February 2023

‘Final Term’ by Leigh Russell

Published by No Exit Press,
26 January 2023.
ISBN: 978-0-85730-429-2 (PB)

When secondary school teacher, Paul Moore, is discovered in a compromising situation with Cassie Jackson, a female pupil, he is adamant that he did nothing to encourage her and that she trapped him by deliberately pouncing upon him, just as the bell rang to allow the next class entry into the classroom.

Cassie is a troubled and trouble making sixteen-year-old whose past experience has made her believe that sex is a source of power. The school staff are aware of this, which makes Moore’s colleagues believe his denials, but nevertheless a lingering doubt remains in their minds, especially when they consider the provocative way that Cassie dresses and behaves and the sad fact that so many people in positions of power misuse it to exploit the vulnerable.

Moore’s headteacher is sympathetic to his plight and reluctant to lose a valued teacher but has no choice other than to suspend Moore pending enquiries. Stuck at home, trying to pretend that everything will be all right, Paul Moore feels increasingly isolated. Worst of all, he is afraid that his wife, Laura, is not convinced of his innocence. As he contemplates the disintegration of his life, it is not surprising that Moore gives way to dark thoughts and feels that he hates Cassie and wishes her dead.

After Paul’s suspension, Laura Moore is also suffering a personal hell. Most of her mind believes her husband is innocent and she desperately wants to be sure of this, but doubts keep creeping in. It is hard for Laura to keep her mind on her job as a stylist in a hair salon and almost impossible to maintain the smiling facade her boss requires. Loyalty and shame prevent Laura from confiding in anyone. She does not tell even her closest friend and confidant, John, whom she turns to for distraction when life with her depressed husband feels unbearable.

When Cassie is murdered, Moore is the obvious suspect, and the evidence against him starts to mount up. Most of Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel’s colleagues are convinced of his guilt and, when a second girl, a close friend of Cassie, is also killed, Moore again has no alibi. The detectives assume that Cassie had confided in her friend and Moore killed her to silence her. With Moore arrested and in prison, most of Geraldine’s team are pleased with their progress and concentrate on consolidating the evidence and trying to make Moore confess.

However, Geraldine is not convinced that the obvious answer is the true one and she has learned to trust her instincts. When Laura Moore goes missing, most people assume she has gone away to escape the shame of her husband’s crimes, but Geraldine is concerned for her safety. Never a person who will take the easy route, Geraldine is determined to discover where Laura has disappeared to but, the closer she comes to the truth, the greater the danger in which she finds herself.

Final Term is the nineteenth book in the series featuring Geraldine Steel. It is an excellent series with engaging characters that have grown throughout the books. It is especially pleasant to witness the warm, stable relationship between Geraldine and her long-time friend and fellow detective, Ian, who is now Geraldine’s lover. The plot of Final Term is cleverly constructed with several viewpoints, which allows the reader to know more of the facts about the case than the detectives or other characters. The protagonists are likeable but very human and capable of making mistakes. Final Term is an enjoyable and intriguing read, which I recommend.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Leigh Russell studied at the University of Kent gaining a Master’s 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, followed by Road Closed, Dead End, Death Bed, Stop Dead, Fatal Act and Killer Plan, all featuring detective Geraldine Steel, and Murder Ring will be published in 2016. Leigh also writes a spinoff series for Geraldine's sergeant, Ian Peterson. Cold Sacrifice, Race to Death and Blood Axe.  Leigh recently signed a three-book deal with Thomas and Mercer for a new series featuring Lucy Hall. Leigh Russell is married with two daughters and lives in Middlesex.

Carol Westron is a successful author and a Creative Writing teacher.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  Her first book The Terminal Velocity of Cats was published in 2013. Since then, she has since written 6 further mysteries. 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 click on the title
The Curse of the Concrete Griffin

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