Good morning, bookworm, do come in and sit in your favourite chair. It’s the first time this year that I haven’t built up a cosy log fire and have opened the top stable door instead to hear the birdsong. Ah, I can see you’re looking puzzled by the sound of the sea despite being nowhere near the beach; that’s courtesy of a couple of Travel Books which I’ve opened and left in a part of the library where the magic is particularly strong so they create a seaside ambience. Speaking of beaches and the ocean (albeit in a much darker way), have you heard about a book called Retribution by Christine O’Reilly? Have a fruity flapjack and a cup of tea while I tell you all about it.
Firstly, here’s the blurb: A young woman has been murdered on Ripton Beach.
DSS ‘Archie’ Baldrick and DC Ben Travers eventually identify the body as that of Lucy Martin, who has been renting a bach in the area. Her husband, Oliver, seems to know very little about his wife or her background.
What was Lucy hiding? Why has she no family or friends?
As the number of suspects mounts up, Archie begins to conclude that the real answer lies in Lucy’s dark and mysterious past, and that the murderer may be just a little too close for comfort…
Now a little about the author: Christina is a writer and professional proofreader living in the Waikato region of New Zealand. Four of her short stories have been published, one in a magazine and the others in anthologies produced by Page and Blackmore, Rangitawa Publishing and most recently in Fresh Ink: Voices from Aotearoa, produced by Cloud Ink Press. As well as being a finalist in the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Awards, Christina’s first crime novel Into the Void was longlisted for the 2019 Michael Gifkins Memorial Prize for an unpublished novel.
And now here’s my review: There was a little part of me feeling envious reading about the heat and the houses overlooking a beach, although the discovery of a grizly body put paid to that pretty quickly. Battling with the stifling heat and fatherly worries, DSS Archie Baldrick struggles to make sense of the leads which run cold and the little information about the victim herself makes things even harder to fathom why and by whom she was murdered. As the novel progresses, a cast of potential suspects is introduced, each one having potential to have been the killer and there are a few red herrings mixed in too. This was one of those books where I was kept guessing until the end, which I love.
Archie was an interesting character; all too often the trope of ‘detective with a troubled back story’ is employed in crime novels but in this one, I found his troubled mind focusing on worries about his teenage daughter and separation from his wife made him relatable and believable. I also enjoyed his interactions with Deborah, the profiler brought in to support on the case. The rest of the secondary characters stand up well too in my opinion, each with their own style of communication and actions so they didn’t blur into one for me.
The storyline moved along well, with the reader being a fly on the wall for several key conversations and hovering over Archie’s shoulder as his team updated him on their conversations with other witnesses or suspects, and I thought this helped keep the plot moving. There were a few “wow, I did not see that coming” moments as I took in a plot twist or new angle on the case, and I enjoyed the way the author makes the victim herself part of the mystery as the investigation team tried to piece together the puzzle of her past to try and shed light on how this may have related to her murder.
I’m going to give this novel four stars and recommend it to those who enjoy police procedurals and authors such as Peter James or Angela Marsons.
If you like the sound of this novel, just click on the book image above to take you to the relevant page on Amazon. I don’t get anything for providing the links; I’m just being a helpful bookworm. Thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel’s Random Resources for the digital copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.
Well bookworm, it’s been lovely to see you as always but I had better go and see what’s going on in the bookshelves. It sounds as though the Classics are complaining about the draft from the open door and the Modern Fiction books are winding them up by saying the breeze is flashing what’s underneath their dust jackets… Until next time, bookworm, farewell!