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by Joyce Holms
Allison and Busby, December 2004
288 pages
ISBN: 0749083174

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Somewhere in the deep recesses of my memory is a vague memory that I read the first of Joyce Holms' Fizz and Tam series. It clearly didn't grab me enough to make me read any others. And I retain the vague impression that this was because the two lead characters were so damn annoying!

It didn't take long to come to the conclusion that my memory hadn't played me false. Fizz is immensely annoying to the extent she has no redeeming features in my jaundiced eyes, whilst Tam can politely be described as a drip.

This mismatched pair, incidentally, are both legal eagles -- Tam, a former solicitor, is starting out as a barrister, whilst the highly unconventional Fizz is working for Tam's old firm. In HIDDEN DEPTHS they get entangled in the disappearance of an art college friend of Fizz's.

Irene Lloyd has been cataloguing and restoring paintings at Abbeyfield House, a stately home fallen on hard times. But she's disappeared off the face off the earth, as has a 1m Rubens painting she was working on, leaving behind her insanely jealous partner Kerr and a thoroughly bemused Sir Douglas Fergusson, owner of the crumbling pile.

From this point on, it's a linear plod as Tam and Fizz question the bizarre collection of staff and residents of Abbeyfield House. There are some faintly amusing lines, but Holms doesn't seem to know quite where to pitch the book. I wouldn't file it under humorous and it's not quite cosy either.

I suspect those who have stuck with the series will have more patience with HIDDEN DEPTHS than I did. I found the 'will they, won't they' hints around dull Tam and selfish, self-centred Fizz immensely tiresome and totally unlikely.

And the book is the victim of some of the lousiest proof-reading I've seen in a while. If you think Lynne Truss is a goddess, don't read it. I felt like stapling my 'how to use apostrophes' memo, lovingly prepared for grammatically-challenged journalism students, to it with unnecessary force.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, January 2005

This book has more than one review. Click here to show all.

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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