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The Body In The Trees: A Bowman Of The Yard Investigation Kindle Edition
Bowman of the Yard: Book Three
'Wonderfully atmospheric, full of the thrills of Victorian London.' Adam Croft.
Accompanied by the trusted Sergeant Graves, Detective Inspector George Bowman finds himself in Larton, a sleepy village on the River Thames. A series of supposed suicides has opened up old wounds between the locals and a gypsy camp in the woods.
The detectives are viewed with suspicion as the villagers close ranks against their investigation, even more so when Bowman succumbs to visions of his dead wife. His sanity in the balance, it’s not long before he places Graves himself in danger, risking the wrath of the Commissioner of Scotland Yard.
Is Bowman in full possession of his wits?
As village life continues and a link between the suicides is discovered, Bowman finds himself ensnared in the machinations of a secret society, with a figure at its head who will stop at nothing to escape justice.
Soon, the inspector is embroiled in a case that began on the dusty plains of Africa, and ends at the gates of a lunatic asylum.
Richard James is an actor, playwright and author with many credits to his name. The Bowman Of The Yard series marks his first as an author. Other books in the acclaimed series include Devil in the Dock and The Head in the Ice.
'A genuinely impressive debut.' Andrew Cartmel, The Vinyl Detective.
'Crime fiction with wit and twists.' Richard Foreman, Raffles: The Complete Innings.
- ASIN : B08773VBYX
- Publisher : Sharpe Books (April 16, 2020)
- Publication date : April 16, 2020
- Language : English
- File size : 1335 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 285 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 1712961411
- Best Sellers Rank: #662,671 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Sergeant Graves and Detective Inspector George Bowman are now in the village of Lanton, investigating a series of suicides that have strained the relationships between the villagers and the nearby Gypsy camp in the forest. Villagers look at the inspectors with suspicion, especially after Bowman sees his dead wife and Graves is endangered. Bowman's sanity is on the line, and it appears that a secret society will do just about anything to remain secret.
The Body in the Trees is the third book in the Bowman of the Yard series, following The Head In The Ice and The Devil In The Dock. Bowman isn't in a very good place at the beginning of the novel, visiting the Victorian equivalent of Twelve Step meetings at the Salvation Army and tremors in his hands when not drinking. He would've been fired if not for the low number of inspectors on the force and his skill in prior cases. Because of his erratic conduct, Sergeant Graves is essentially his babysitter.
In the time period of these novels, the Roma were referred to as travellers or Gypsies, and were treated even worse than they are now in Europe. The hanged man's son is also treated terribly, shunned by the village as bad luck while he knows of all their poor behavior when they appear god-fearing. A number of the villagers, especially those with a modicum of power, are distasteful and awful people, to the point that I was pulling faces as I read about them in the book. Most villagers don't have warm relationships with each other, even in a hardscrabble life, and a secret order meets at night with a sinister air.
We get to the bottom of the mystery by the end of the novel, and Bowman was steadily declining throughout the story. While justice is served at the end, he's still emotionally broken and he loses grip on himself. I feel sorry for him, because he tries so hard to get to the truth, and loses hold of himself in the process, and once again is swallowed up by the grief for his wife he carried with him.
This is the third novel in the series of A Bowman in the Yard Investigation that I read, and I’ve become a keen follower of the series, which combines interesting characters and plot with a great attention to detail and a compelling style of writing that transport readers right into the heart of Victorian England. While the previous novels were set in London (and we learned much about the changes taking place in the city at the time and the criminal underworld), this novel takes inspector Bowman, Graves, and later Hicks, from Scotland Yard, to the countryside, where they are confronted with a village that is fiercely suspicious of outsiders, and where anybody straying from the established social order is frown upon. The author proves as adept at depicting this society (with its rigid norms of behaviour, its prejudices and xenophobia, its narrow-mindedness and its cruelty) as he had been at showing us what the big metropolis was like. This is no idyllic English village, but a place full of secrets, envies, one-upmanship, spite, and lack of empathy. It might look pretty from the outside, but like a rotten fruit, its insides are ugly.
Bowman, who had been struggling with his grief and his mental health difficulties from the first book, is quickly becoming unravelled, and that is partly why he is sent away from London to a place where his superiors think he is less likely to cause any damage or come to any serious harm. It is also a way of testing him and seeing how he manages, under the supervision of Graves. As the description explains, things start going wrong quite quickly and Bowman’s mental state puts everybody at risk.
The P.O.V. is the same as in the rest of the series, omniscient, mostly focused on Bowman, but there are parts of the story where we share in the point of view of one of his men, and even of some of the villagers and others involved. I know some readers are not fond of this particular point of view, and although I think it works particularly well in this setting (as the main character becomes an increasingly unreliable narrator) prospective readers might want to check a sample of the writing beforehand. There are hints and references to events in previous novels in the series, but I think a reader new to the series would be able to enjoy it as well, and I’m convinced he’d be sufficiently intrigued with the events here to want to catch up with the rest of the story.
I particularly liked the depiction of village life, and the social commentary resulting from it (gypsies are suspected of all crimes, there are rigid social norms and people cannot try to move across the divide without causing resentment). I also enjoyed the background to the mystery (but I won’t say anything else to avoid spoilers). There are plenty of red herrings, twists and turns, and cul-de-sacs; although at a personal level I am more interested in Victorian London and its criminal world. I was also intrigued by the baddie, who in some ways seems to understand Bowman perfectly (better than he understands himself, perhaps because they have things in common, although each one of them have dealt with their personal situation in a completely different way), and enjoyed seeing more of Graves and even Hicks (who can be quite effective when he gets going).
What got me hooked into the story most of all was Bowman and his descend into his personal hell. He tries to find some remedy and some help for his condition, but it is not easy, and in his path to self-destruction he gathers a momentum he is unable to control. The ending came as no surprise (I refer to what happens to Bowman, rather than the actual case, although I also guessed the guilty parties, but then I have a suspicious mind. I wouldn’t say it’s easy to guess), and I wonder what will come next.
This is another great novel, and one that explores a different, but not kinder, aspect of life in the Victorian era. There is domestic violence, exploitation, murders, secrets, cowardice, and the full catalogue of human sins. We also get an opportunity to witness the unequal fight of a good man against his grief and his PTSD. The violence and the crimes and not particularly explicit in this book, but this is not a gentle cozy mystery, and readers should be prepared for their emotions to be put to the test. A great combination of historical mystery, social commentary and psychological study. Highly recommended.
Top reviews from other countries
The ambience of the village with its quirky residents is captured from the onset. The author has a real talent for scene setting with some great descriptive writing but without it becoming heavy going and detracting from the story. It was easy to read and hard to put down!
We learn more of the fascinating cast of characters, not least the flawed and troubled hero himself whose fragile mental state underpins the story and leaves us with a shocking and unexpected ending.
Overall a great instalment, building nicely on the first 2 books and I can’t wait for the next one!
Bowman's hallucinations are described so vividly you are immediately immersed into his state of mind which is fascinating and very thought provoking. I have made sure that I have purchased the next book Phantom in the Fog as I am eager for more Bowman of the Yard stories!!
Richard James’ talent for description is on show yet again and the intricate details of Larton village virtually transports you right there so you can almost feel the oppressive Summer heat.
I particularly liked getting more insight in to the character of Graves, and Bowman himself continues to be one of the best anti-heroes in literature.
Looking forward to the next instalment already!
he also has a great friend in Graves I cannot wait to read the next book in the series if you like Victorian era start reading Bowman of the yard .