Friday, 11 December 2009

CRIME REVIEW: A Hard Death - Jonathan Hayes

Jenner, the brilliant forensic pathologist hero of A PRECIOUS BLOOD, has survived the horrific final denouement of the Inquisitor serial killings, but not the political fall-out. His medical license suspended, Jenner finds himself banished from New York to Douglas County in coastal Florida, and settles in to work as a Medical Examiner in the balmy seaside resort of Port Fontaine. But nothing in Douglas is as it seems. First, Jenner's former mentor is found savagely murdered, then an anonymous call in the middle of the night leads Jenner to a nightmarish discovery in the Everglades. He finds traces of a shadowy criminal conspiracy, and soon learns that he can trust no one. Even after an attempt on his life, Jenner refuses to walk away and let his friend's murder go unpunished. The result is an explosive, edge-of-the-seat thriller in the tradition of Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs.

Having devoured Jonathan’s first novel I really couldn’t wait to get stuck into this second one. Grabbing it I just took the time out to make a cup of tea, a sandwich and a quick loo break before I settled down to immerse myself again with Jenner and his world before the night drew in. As I’d expected from the first, the arc is beautifully constructed with me feeling like I was watching it all from directly behind Jenner’s shoulder rather than words on a page. Add to that the sense of scope for the landscape along with the people who inhabited it and the chance to see the gritty underbelly of criminal activities and I felt that I had a really great story.

But perhaps what Jonathan does better than many others is his characterisation with a Jenner growing again throughout the arc with each subsequent character giving enough of themselves to make the reader care about them with the fates winding and snipping life threads which allowed the reader to see that the author plays for keeps. My only real gripe with the whole thing was to do with the money wrapped within the arc. Alas I felt a little let down by the whole thing in regard to the events portrayed but it won’t stop me enjoying future novels by Jonathan as I get the feeling that guilt will eat away at the character concerned.

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