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by H. R. F. Keating
St Martin's Minotaur, December 2004
304 pages
ISBN: 0312322143

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Detective Harriet Martens is back having previously appeared in THE HARD DETECTIVE, A DETECTIVE IN LOVE, and A DETECTIVE UNDER FIRE. Now she is dealing with the new Chief Constable, one Mr Newcomen, called Newbroom behind his back. This new broom isn't just sweeping clean, he's trying to force everyone into his sterile spick and span empire. Detective Martens, popular with the media as 'The Hard Detective,' is a threat to that.

So he gives her a case that he calls an opportunity -- the chance to find out who killed a popular preacher 30 years ago. The hotel where he was strangled is due to be destroyed, and surely modern forensics could pick up clues from the evidence still in police custody.

Harriet realizes that this is his opportunity to get rid of her. If she solves the case, he will take the credit, while if she fails, he will doubtless use that as an opportunity to remove her from the force. Her suspicions are reinforced when Newbroom gives her an inaccurate popular history for a case file, a closet office without a computer, and help in the form of an aging constable who has only recently recovered from a nervous breakdown.

The case is both simple and impossible. Only seven suspects were in the inner sanctum of the Hotel Imperial when the young Krishna Kumaramangalam, known as the Boy Preacher, was strangled. Newbroom is convinced that DNA testing will show who did it. Although the test does come up with a suspect, Harriet's instincts warn her that there is another reason for that evidence. So she and the twitching DC Pip Steadman hit the streets doing old-fashioned interviews and sifting through ancient evidence.

THE DREAMING DETECTIVE is a tightly-written, interesting blend of modern police procedure and cold case detection, spiced with office politics. Although part of a series, it works as a standalone and is an excellent introduction to Harriet Martens' career. This is fortunate, as Harriet is a woman well worth knowing.

Reviewed by Linnea Dodson, December 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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