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by Bernie Crosthwaite
Creme de la Crime, April 2005
288 pages
ISBN: 0954763432

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Jude Baxendale is a photographer on an evening newspaper. She reckons she's pretty much seen it all, but when she covers a murder in a local park she makes a horrifying discovery -- the dead girl is her son Daniel's girlfriend Lara.

And it turns out that quiet, innocent-seeming Lara, who worked for a local estate agent, wasn't all she seemed. Jude, who has a typical newspaperwoman's nose for a story, can't help but get tangled up in the investigation.

IF IT BLEEDS is a cracking debut novel from Bernie Crosthwaite, who has obviously worked on a local newspaper. She's captured an eclectic range of characters, starting with the editor, a refugee from the nationals and who thinks he's super-scoop, through a selection of barking mad photographers to the keen young reporter Matt Dryden.

The book is set in the fictional UK town of Ravenbridge, but it could pretty much be any smallish town. The small-town atmosphere is uncannily accurate (been there, done the job, got the scars to prove it!) and the freezing cold January weather adds another dimension to the action. There's some real menace there as Jude, with the help of handsome Matt, battles to clear Daniel's name and to find out who wanted Lara dead.

I devoured IF IT BLEEDS in an afternoon. The title, incidentally, comes from the newspaper expression 'if it bleeds, it leads.' The writing's slick, the plotting tidy and Jude is a refreshingly sparky late 30-something heroine with a teenage son in tow. Crosthwaite just about gets away with her leading character investigating the murder without putting her through too many unlikely hoops to justify her nosiness.

I'm not absolutely certain we need the prologue, as it detracts from some of the tension later on. But Crosthwaite resists the temptation to tie the ending up too neatly -- which I hope means we shall see more of Jude.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, April 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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