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by Ken McClure
Allison and Busby, June 2005
288 pages
ISBN: 0749083344

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

It's a dark and stormy night when THE EYE OF THE RAVEN opens. Rev Joseph Lawson, a vicar with a dwindling parish, gets a call to go to the State Hospital, a secure unit for the criminally insane, where a particularly nasty bit of work called Hector Combe is on his last legs.

Lawson reluctantly makes the journey, and is severely traumatised by what he hears as Combe admits to a murder he couldn't possibly have committed, as DNA evidence has already nailed a man for the rape and murder of 13-year-old Julie Summers nine years previously.

The bizarre report ends up on the desk of Dr Steven Dunbar, who works for the British government in something called the Sci-Med Inspectorate. It's an elite agency which investigates high-tech crime relating to science and medicine. Dunbar's a nosy sort of bloke, so he goes trogging off to Edinburgh to ask a few questions -- and soon discovers that there might have been a miscarriage of justice.

In many ways THE EYE OF THE RAVEN is an unremarkable thriller, made readable by its slightly unusual science angle. McClure has apparently been a research scientist before turning to writing, so we have to assume he knows his stuff -- although I was a bit uncertain about the accuracy of some of his information on testing for HIV.

The main problem with the book is that the characterisation is so thin that the slightest puff of wind would send it billowing over the North Sea. Dunbar, a widower with a young daughter, is thinly inked in, so the lesser characters don't stand a chance. His boss John Macmillan is even less that one-dimensional, whatever that might be! And the unconvincing female characters conform to every stereotype you can think of.

THE EYE OF THE RAVEN is a diverting enough read if you want something undemanding and quick, and don't mind the fact there's not much padding anywhere. The ending, incidentally, is definite 'boys' toys' -- not quite saving the world with a Swiss Army knife, but not far off!

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, August 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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