I sometimes approach a new crime series with trepidation; I’m sure everyone has read one or two where some crucial evidence appears at just the right time as if by magic, or there’s a confession akin to an episode of Scooby Doo. Derek Thompson’s “Long Shadows” thankfully didn’t fall into either trap.
The reader joins the protagonist, Detective Craig Wild, in the first few weeks of his transition from the pressures of city policing to the somewhat slower pace of a countryside force in Mayberry. It isn’t going well for him as he’s viewed as a cockney outsider in this close knit community. Wild stumbles over ever more tangled roots of family trees as he tries to improve the first impressions he made and solve the apparent suicide of a local farmer, which isn’t as clear cut as it seems. Following the trails through nepotism, inheritance and decisions made decades ago which haunt the village even now, he makes friends and enemies along the way to the novel’s surprising conclusion.
I found Wild to be a refreshing character; he puts his foot in his mouth so regularly he has need to hop rather than walk; his sardonic inner monologues made me chuckle at times and I felt for him when flashes of pain from his divorce and exile from the Metropolitan force surface to distract him.
I enjoyed seeing PC Marnie Olsen grow as the story progressed and hope we see more of her in future novels. There were some characters who I never really got to grips with, such as DI Marsh; I would have liked to have found out more about her and had the opportunity to see less of her battleaxe side and more vulnerability to understand her character. I had to go back a few times to jog my memory on relatives and storylines but overall I enjoyed the novel with its twists and tangles.
I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a light crime drama (think Midsomer Murders) rather than a gritty police procedural.