Wednesday, May 26, 2010
"Death was afraid of him because he had the heart of a lion." Arabian Proverb
In this amusing story by a talented writer, Detective Inspector Peter Shaw and veteran officer, Detective Sgt. George Valentine are sent to look for containers of toxic waste on a Norfolk, England beach. While they are there, they discover a dead body in a raft, washing up against the shore. The weather is terrible and blizzard conditions prevail.
Not far away, someone has placed a sign on the main highway that due to flooding motorists should detour to the coastal road. A tree has been cut and is across the road and eight cars are trapped on the road. In addition, someone has killed the driver of the first car in line, Harvey Ellis.
When Shaw and Valentine get to the scene, what perplexes them is that, although Ellis has been killed in a violent manner, there are no footprints in the snow.
D.I. Shaw followed his father, Jack, into the police department. He is currently the youngest Detective Inspector on the job. He's teamed with the tough, no nonsense, veteran, George Valentine. What adds possible tension between the partners is that Valentine had been Peter's father's old partner. Twelve years prior, Jack Shaw and George Valentine made a mistake with the evidence on a case, ending Shaw's career. Now, as Peter Shaw is investigating the highway case, he surprises Valentine by asking him to tell him about the old case and to take him over the scene of the crime.
This is a well done, extremely interesting novel. With only those cars on the highway, it is a variation of the locked door mystery. The author's literary style was a pleasure to read and Shaw and Valentine are an enjoyable team to read, the crusty old vet, under the supervision of the young Chief Inspector, who has a talent for forensics and in dealing with suspects.
My dilemma was the I wanted to get to the end of the story to discover how the novel ended and yet the book was such an enjoyable read that I didn't want it to end.