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Book Review – Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham

Synopsis:  At first, the murder scene appears sad, but not unusual: a young woman undone by drugs and prostitution, her six-year-old daughter dead alongside her. But then detectives find a strange piece of evidence in the squalid house: the platinum credit card of a very wealthyand long deadsteel tycoon. What is a heroin-addicted hooker doing with the credit card of a well-known and powerful man who died months ago? This is the question that the most junior member of the investigative team, Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths, is assigned to answer.

But D.C. Griffiths is no ordinary cop. Shes earned a reputation at police headquarters in Cardiff, Wales, for being odd, for not picking up on social cues, for being a little overintense. And theres that gap in her past, the two-year hiatus that everyone assumes was a breakdown. But Fiona is a crack investigator, quick and intuitive. She is immediately drawn to the crime scene, and to the tragic face of the six-year-old girl, who she is certain has something to tell her . . . something that will break the case wide open.

Ignoring orders and protocol, Fiona begins to explore far beyond the rich mans credit card and into the secrets of her seaside city. And when she uncovers another dead prostitute, Fiona knows that shes only begun to scratch the surface of a dark world of crime and murder. But the deeper she digs, the more danger she risksnot just from criminals and killers but from her own past . . . and the abyss that threatens to pull her back at any time.

First Line:  Beyond the window, I can see three kites hanging in the air over Bute Park.

Random Quote:  I’m not good with hospitals.  The endless buildings, trees dotted around like apologies, and inside, it’s job functions you can’t understand and that air of incomprehensible busyness.  Curtained-off beds and death settling like falling snow.

Review:  I wasn’t sure what to expect from Talking to the Dead, but I was blown away.  D.C. Fiona Griffiths will be compared to Carol O’Connell‘s Mallory, but she’s her own person with her own set of issues and weaknesses and many strengths.  It’s obvious from the beginning that something is off with her, but Mr. Bingham doesn’t slam you over the head with her difference and this makes the mystery more compelling – the mystery of her and the mystery she’s working to solve.

Fiona is a Cambridge graduate with a brilliant analytical mind.  She finds her initial work on the police force stultifying – how interesting can forensic accounting really be when you aren’t a forensic accountant?  When a child and her mother are found dead in a squat, Fiona is captivated and begins to insert herself into the investigation finding unexpected links and causing lots and lots of mayhem.

Fiona isn’t one note.  Her character is well-developed and seeing the events of the book through her eyes is pretty amazing.  Her intellect and attention to detail and essential vulnerability make you want to cheer her on and to protect her from herself and the rest of the world.  With the beginnings of some great secondary characters, Mr. Bingham’s got himself a great series going if he wants to continue the story.  If he doesn’t the work stands on its own.  Much enjoyment to be had in reading this one!

FTC Disclosure:  Copy for review from publisher via NetGalley

Publishing Information:  Delacorte Press – September 25, 2012

Format:  Kindle


Reading Challenges:  A to Z Reading Challenge, 2013 European Reading Challenge, Literary Exploration Challenge, Mystery/Crime Reading Challenge

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