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Blood Never Dies: A Bill Slider British Police Procedural (A Bill Slider Mystery) Hardcover – December 1, 2012
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The consistently strong Harrod-Eagles pulls another rabbit out of her hat with the latest entry in her respected DI Bill Slider series. Slider’s latest case has him and his team investigating the death of a mystery man found in the bathtub of his down-market apartment with his throat slit, and nothing left in the apartment except the furniture—no papers, no photos, no cell phone. It’s clear the man was murdered, but who is he and why was he killed? The more Slider and his team learn, the less they know. Then another murder occurs, and there are enough similarities between the two to have Slider uttering the dreaded words serial killer. Dogged work—days of checking CCTV cameras, verifying alibis, conducting door-to-door interviews—eventually leads to a startling conclusion. Clever, engaging, and well plotted, this is a fine example of the British police procedural and sure to be a hit with genre buffs and Anglophiles. --Emily Melton
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When is a suicide not a suicide? When it's a murder. When the details are just slightly off. When is a murder particularly hard to solve? When you don't know the identity of the victim. It's even harder when you find a name but realize it's false. For DI Bill Slider and his team, the more they dig, the more murders occur, and the more obscure becomes the motive behind it all.
Cynthia Harrod-Eagles has a wonderfully descriptive style. Her writing, and dialogue, is natural, sprinkled with wry humor, and occasional colloquialisms.
She is very British, so occasionally some of her references of phrases might not be understood by Americans. It doesn't matter; look them up and move on. It is well worth it and you learn something along the way.
Her writing can make you stop and consider..."Death was so mysterious, Slider thought, not for the first time. The difference between a human being and a dead body was so profound, it always amazed him that made the difference, the vital spark, could disappear so instantaneously and completely."..."He looked at her. `Animals just follow instinct. It's only humans who perform calculated acts of vileness.'"
It is particularly appealing that, although Bill Slider is the protagonist, it is truly an ensemble case. Everyone has an important role to play. I also appreciate that Harrod-Eagles shows the harsh and plainly unfair reality of one's career being limited by either not having the "right" look or manner. "But scrawny frog-eyed Hollis, with his despairing hair and feather-duster moustache...made Peter Lorre look like a model from a knitwear catalogue. ...He was a damn good policeman, which was all that counted to Slider--though not, of course, with the media-obsessed top bods in the Job, who would never promote Colin Hollis to any position that might get him on camera." Slider is misfit in his own way. He doesn't judge others but has a dogged determination to find the truth; he believes in fighting for right and justice.
What was missing was the some of the sparkle that makes this, for me, such a must-read series. There wasn't as much interaction between Slider and his wife, Joanna, his father and Atherton, to which one always looks forward. Even the lovely and malapropos-plagued D.S. Porson--"A case of walking your chickens before they can run..." was little less apparent than in past stories.
It's the excellent plotting that makes this such a compelling read. You feel the team's frustration knowing the clues are leading somewhere, but having no idea where. You become part of the team, looking for the answers, rather than stand outside the story.
"Blood Never Dies" is a solid police procedural, with a strong plot and characters you want to visit again and again.
BLOOD NEVER DIES (Pol Prod-DI Bill Slider-England-Contemp) - G+
Harrod-Eagles, Cynthia - 15th in series
Severn House, 2012
Present are the usual assortment of colleagues who fans of the series have gotten to know and love, despite (or perhaps because of) their quirks and eccentricities, of course their boss, DS Porson, master of the malapropisms, who "used language like a man flailing at wasps - - usually effective, but never a pretty sight."
Meticulously plotted, the author brings matters to a most satisfactory resolution. As much as the mystery itself, and the wonderful characters who inhabit it, among the most enjoyable ingredients of this series are the charming descriptions, of people and places, employed by her, e.g., "scrawny frog-eyed Hollis, with his despairing hair and feather-duster moustache [who] made Peter Lorre look like a model from a knitwear catalogue;" the aforementioned building owner, "short and swarthy, his head emerging from his shoulders without the bother of a neck;" one character who had "so many spare tyres round his neck he looked as though his chin was resting on a stack of crumpets;" another who had teeth "so white he'd have been useful to have around on a rocky shore in the fog;" a bouncer whose "chest was so broad his nipples were in different time zones. He looked as if he could lift weights with his tongue;" and Slider himself who, at one point at the end of a long day, removes his shoes and socks in a quiet moment: "His feet wriggled gratefully in the open air like puppies shown affection at last." I always finish a Cynthia Harrod-Eagles/Bill Slider book anxiously awaiting the next one, and this one is no exception. Highly recommended.
I found a few unlikely points, principally the actor not having told anyone at all that he was undercover - he'd recently been a magazine journalist and should have told his editor. That would have made it work. He'd also have uploaded his information to a dropbox or cloud storage on the net, not just left it on a flashdrive and laptop to get stolen. The ending is hugely unlikely though well written, with Atherton, Slider's sidekick, in danger. And the story has to be rehashed for several pages to wrap it up, for the readers.
Overall this is an interesting look at some people and places which never get viewed in more touristy books, the ordinary folks and ordinary cops. As a police procedural it feels more like a chatty Ruth Rendell than a high tech or intense procedural.