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by Stuart Pawson
Allison and Busby, October 2003
248 pages
ISBN: 0749006420

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Things are looking up for Detective Inspector Charlie Priest. He's just cleared up a big murder investigation, the court case is over, and now it's time to de-stress and catch up on the more mundane cases that fall to the police on a daily basis. The most heinous crime in Heckley seems to be the theft of underwear from washing lines - a crime which gives the wisecracking coppers at Heckley nick the ideal opportunity for some banter:

"How did you get on with the knicker thief," I asked.

"Great. We got a description."

"Go on."

"Black lace, open crotch. I'm looking into it."

Classic Stuart Pawson. And, outside of work, it seems that a policeman's lot can indeed be a happy one. Charlie's love life is also looking up for a change, as he asks out geology teacher Rosie Barraclough.

Needless to say, things quickly go downhill. There's a suspected case of Ebola virus at Heckley General, an outbreak of organised dogfighting, and someone's tampering with tins of food at the local supermarket -- and getting more and more vicious. To add insult to injury, the lovely Rosie is cooling off. In fact, she switches from nicely simmering to just above frozen in the time it takes Charlie to tell her he's a policeman.

LIMESTONE COWBOY is the 9th book in a series which goes from strength to strength. Charlie Priest is an absolute delight. He's a really good copper - thorough, conscientious and fair -- although not above a little tweaking the law around the edges when the need arises. He's respected and liked by his colleagues and subordinates and even gets on well with his bosses. And shock, horror, he gets his paperwork done on time. He's also a thoroughly nice bloke and someone you would be glad to have on your side in a crisis. If nothing else, he would make you laugh.

What can I say? Charlie Priest is back, and he's as wonderful as ever. A new Stuart Pawson is like an evening in with old friends -- smiling anticipation beforehand; laughter, warmth and feeling comfortable while they're here; and after it's all over -- great memories but you wish they'd come back very, very soon.

The plot is excellent, with its intertwining of threads and crimes large and small. But the biggest crime is that the early books in the series are so hard to get hold of.

Reviewed by Donna Moore, December 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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