DEAD PEOPLE by EWART HUTTON
The cover describes this as a Glyn Capaldi mystery. It is in fact the second in the series. A friend reviewed the first book, “ Good People” for Writing .ie last year.
It’s not hard to see the series evolving with a common link in the book titles of “people” rather as Peter James has done with “dead” in his Roy Grace series.
Glyn Capaldi is a detective sergeant, exiled from Cardiff to Dinas in rural Wales after a cock-up in the city. The local crime is rural, not too serious until a pilot wind farm project uncovers a skeleton – minus head and hands. Further exploration leads to the discovery of two more skeletons similarly mutilated. The remains are dated to at least eight years earlier.
Then, close to the wind farm, the freshly interred body of a young woman is discovered, similarly mutilated. She is identified as a local teen who ran away from home two years earlier. Where has she been in the interim? Is her body connected to the skeletons.? The answer of course is yes – and the rest of the novel is given over to establishing the link and finding out the identity of the killer. On the way Capaldi has to take orders from his mortal enemy from Cardiff, DCI Kevin Fletcher and has time for a brief romantic interlude.
The book is well written in an easy style with some throwaway humorous lines and at least one neat twist. One reviewer thought the style reminiscent of R.D. Wingfield’s Jack Frost, which was something that had occurred to me after about 20 pages. Yet whereas Frost always seemed to get the better of Horn rimmed Harry, Fletcher seems to be his nemesis.
The only problem I had with the plot was that the later murders seemed pointless in the context of the earlier ones and were certainly less justifiable, even to the twisted mind of the murderer. (There was a somewhat analogous discordance in one of the last Wallender DVDs in which murder and cover –up are carried out to thwart a prosecution for far less serious crimes.)
All in all, though, the author has created a plausible likeable detective who is likely to feature in a number of sequels.