Welcome bookworm, it’s so lovely to see you again! You must have heard the sound of the kettle whistling on the stove ready for me to pour a warming cup of tea. Can I tempt you to Manchester tart, still a little warm from my baking this morning? Ooh, speaking of Manchester, let me tell you about a book I’ve just finished that’s set in the vibrant city. It’s called Whatever It Takes by Heaton Wilson. Have you heard of it? Here, rest your legs in this comfy armchair in the library while you eat your tart and I’ll tell you all about it.
Firstly, here’s the blurb:
DCI Jane Birchfield is facing a series of personal challenges: a rocky relationship with her partner, her mum hardly talks to her; and her boss and mentor is critically ill, which means she is having to cover his post as well as her own. Then she has to take charge of the toughest of murder investigations.
Jamie Castleton is found dead, seemingly frozen in position at a computer in a grubby internet cafe in the Manchester suburb of Ashbridge. Enquiries reveal he was a self employed tech consultant and a computer expert, so what was he doing in there?
The more Jane and her team dig under the surface, the more the evidence points to one of Manchester’s biggest companies, Greaves, and its super-wealthy boss, Graeme Hargreaves. This leads Jane into a sordid underworld, and a surprise twist in the investigation forces her to face up to an event in her own past, that she has kept buried for 25 years.
Slowly, but surely, the net tightens around the suspects, but can she stay objective, and can she keep herself, her team, and her relationship, together, and bring the killer to justice? For Jane it has become a personal crusade, but in this race against time there is far more at stake than she ever imagined.
Next, here’s a little about the author in their own words:
I have been a newspaper journalist, a postman, a public relations officer, a consultant, an actor, a director, a playwright. And I have always kept writing.
I always felt I could write a novel. And I did! The first book in my crime fiction series featuring DCI Jane Birchfield, Every Reason, came out in 2016. Whatever It Takes was published in 2021; and the third book (which follows on where Whatever It Takes ends) is nearing completion.
I’m from Manchester but now live on the Isle of Wight, where the sea is never far away. It’s the perfect place to be creative, and to walk the dogs.
Finally, here’s my review: I always enjoy reading books set in places I’m at least vaguely familiar with and the Deansgate area of Manchester came to life in Whatever It Takes. DCI Jane Birchfield immediately jumped off the pages for me and when I wasn’t reading the novel, I found her staring intently at me in the back of my mind until I picked it up again. A woman in the predominantly male upper echelon of policing, Jane feels she needs to work twice as hard and long as her male counterparts to be taken seriously in her field. She’s also struggling with a relationship going through a rocky patch which she has to balance with the demands of her work, as well as someone she respects and cares for deeply being on a palliative care pathway. Her character came across to me as believable, driven and human, especially as she faced up to events from her past.
Jane’s partner Allan, a newspaper editor, features heavily in the story not just as her romantic interest but also in his own right as he becomes embroiled in the investigation to solve what started out as a young man dying unexpectedly in an internet cafe but soon takes a darker, murderous turn. I could empathise with his frustration about Jane’s long hours but part of me wanted to tell him to suck it up as he knew what her job entailed when he became involved with her.
There are a cast of characters who feature throughout the book both in the police team supporting Jane to uncover the rotten layers of murder and the dark web, a local businessman and his cronies whose expanding company owns the internet cafe the young man died in, and the victim himself who I changed my opinion about several times throughout the story as I wondered how involved he was with the illegal dealings which came to light. I liked the way he was brought to life via accounts from the people who knew him and letters and clues he left behind.
I understand this is the second book in the series and I noted was that this book mentions by name the murderer from Jane’s previous case, which I presume is the subject of the first book. Having not read it, I’m not sure whether that book has a “whodunnit” formula but if so, I now know “who did it” and that could impact on my enjoyment of it. Unless of course it’s a thriller where you know from the beginning who the bad guy is and wait for the rest of the cast to catch up but as I said, I haven’t read it so I don’t know…
Whatever It Takes kept me engrossed until the end so I’m giving it 4 stars. If you like the sound of it, you can click on the book image above for purchase details. I don’t get anything for providing the link, I’m just being a helpful bookworm. Thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel’s Random Resources for the digital copy of the book in return for my honest opinion.
Well bookworm, as much as I’d love to stay and chat longer, I’d must disappear. I can hear whispers in the bookshelves about which DCI outranks the others in the crime shelves so I’d better stage a diplomatic intervention before it gets out of hand. Until next time, bookworm, farewell!