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Dead Hand of History (A DCI Monika Paniatowski Mystery) Hardcover – Large Print, May 30, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Spencer elevates Monika Paniatowski, the protégé of Det. Chief Insp. Charlie Woodend (A Dying Fall, etc.), to center stage in this pedestrian police procedural set in 1973 Lancashire. On her first day as Woodend's successor, Paniatowski faces a misogynistic sergeant with an axe to grind and visits the site of a grisly discovery—a bag containing a severed human hand. After another hand turns up and proves to be that of baker Tom Whittington, the police figure out the first hand belongs to Linda Szymborska, Whittington's managing director at the bakery, with whom he was having an affair. Szymborska's husband is the obvious suspect, but Paniatowski hesitates to arrest him, opening herself to charges of bias due to their shared Polish background. Readers should be prepared for stock characters—the single mother trying to succeed in a man's world, her subordinate determined to undermine her—and a routine plot. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Review

Two grisly murders at a bakery provide a trial by fire for Charlie Woodend's protégée. As he readies himself for retirement in sunny Spain, "Cloggin' it Charlie" has left some mighty big brogues to fill at the Mid-Lancs nick. So when two dismembered hands lead to the discovery of two employees who went missing as the first loaves of Brunskill's Prize-Winning Bread were loaded on trucks bound for market one morning, Monika Paniatowski (Fatal Quest, 2008, etc.) knows she'll be tested. But the newly minted DCI isn't quite prepared for the treachery of her misogynist bagman, DS Walker, who undercuts her at every turn. Nor the calculated indifference of her boss, Chief Constable George Baxter, who had a brief affair with Monika years before coming to Lancashire and now fears being charged with favoritism. Nor the hectoring of Mike Traynor of the Evening Chronicle, who accuses her publicly of shielding suspect Stan Szymborska because she shares his Polish heritage. Only DI Colin Beresford seems willing to help Monika find out whether it really was Szymborska who killed his wife Linda, who ran Brunskill's along with her sister Jenny. Baker Tom Whittington, the other murdered employee, was Linda's lover, so Stan certainly has motive. And there are no other prospects in sight at harmonious Brunskill's. But before charging Stan, Monika wants what Charlie would have demanded: evidence. Monika carries the torch nobly as Spencer's franchise keeps its edge --Kirkus Reviews, 15th October 2009 --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: A DCI Monika Paniatowski Mystery (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Severn House Large Print; Large type / large print edition (May 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0727899899
  • ISBN-13: 978-0727899897
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,300,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By RJPetyo on March 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"The Dead Hand of History" by Sally Spencer is the first novel in her series featuring recently promoted DCI Monika Paniatowski, former protégé of Charlie Woodend. Set in England in the early 70s, the book deals with two grisly murders that start with hands being chopped off.

Sally Spencer's procedurals continue to be winners. This novel is a perfect transition from one lead character to a new one, with the aura of Charlie Woodend hanging over it. "How would Charlie handle it?" "Charlie would have solved it by now."

Some procedurals are all plot and no character; others are all character development and bickering while on the fringes of a boring investigation. This is neither. It is an action-filled police procedural that is heavy on character, both of the police and of the civilians. There are conflicts galore: Monika is unsure she can follow in Charlie's footsteps; Detective Walker is doing his best to sabotage her because he resents a woman being promoted over him; Monika's new boss is a former lover.

The twists and turns of the plot kept me off balance and ultimately satisfied, although there are still some unresolved conflicts, which I assume will carry over into other books in the series. I will be reading the newer entries.

If you like procedurals, and I do, this series is for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By AMS on March 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I have to say up front that this is the first book by this author that I have read. I don't have the history of character development that might have made a difference to my reception of this book. The story is about a newly promoted DCI with her first case as the leader. She deals with different gender and nationalist prejudices. I thought it was alright but some of the dialogue and particularly the bits of the story that hinged on prejudice left me unconvinced and I found it contrived. I don't think I will read any more in this series.
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By By Alice Hoffman on April 30, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Not that good of a book. Wasn't impressed with writing style. In time I think het style will improve thanks to
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Format: Audible Audio Edition
I knew nothing about the author or the series before I downloaded this book. The book is part of a long running series which began publication in 1998 with the Inspector Woodend books. Inspector Woodend was Monica Paniatowski's superior in the previous books. He is now retiring and set to move to Spain. Monica is taking over his position.

The book was published according the Fantastic Fiction web site in 2009. It appears to be set (from internal statements about World War II and references to the Viet Nam war protests) in the 1970's so Monica Paniatowski is one of the early women in positions of authority in the police. (Prior to 1973 I think that women officers had a separate department) That should have added to the interest of her position but somehow it didn't. Also, again according to Fantastic Fiction, Sally Spencer is a pseudonym of Alan Rustage.

Anyway the story opens with a woman who has been incapacitated. Her captor chops her hand off. That's the most grisly part of the book. The hand is discovered along the river bank and becomes the first case assigned to newly minted DCI Paniatowski. And Paniatowski has to labor under problems with disloyal subordinates, national bigotry and the issue of her sex. She also seems to smoke like a chimney. (I can understand the emphasis on smoking in certain books where part of the characterization involves trying to quit smoking, but books actually written in the period this book is set in do not put all that much emphasis on smoking. Maybe the author is trying to use smoking as a period detail? If he is, I think he is overdoing it because it becomes intrusive.

Paniatowski is no Jane Tennison from Prime Suspect. In fact at times I found myself wondering (along with her detractors) just why she had been promoted.
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