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by Maureen Carter
Creme de la Crime, June 2006
288 pages
ISBN: 0955158907

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

DS Bev Morriss is a good cop who was at the back of the queue when they handed out tact. She's driven, focussed, won't take no for an answer, and operates in minus numbers when it comes to suffering fools (and she's surrounded by a few of those!)

BABY LOVE is the third in Maureen Carter's series, set in Birmingham, the UK's second city. Even with all the tarting up that's gone on around the city centre canals, it's not exactly picturesque. The books capture the contrasts between the now glitzy city centre, the affluent suburbs and the sink estates.

Natalie Beck and her mother Maxine live on a dog-rough council estate. Natalie's a teenage single mum and she's devastated when her baby is abducted from her house. Bev's not happy to be pulled off a rape case, which is being led by her nemesis DI MIke Powell, and put onto the search for baby Zoe -- especially given she and Maxine have past history.

Naturally, though, Bev can't keep her snout out of the other case where a rapist, nicknamed the Beast of Birmingham, is terrorising young women -- especially when it gives her the chance to get one up on Powell. Only her good relationship with troubled Supt Bill Byford stops her from getting into deep water.

It's all too easy for writers to overdo the feisty maverick female cop, but Carter resists that temptation, making Bev someone you root for.

Bev's private life is still as shambolic as ever. Her on-off love interest DC Oz Khan seems to be more off than on. She's moved house and still hasn't unpacked. Best friend Frankie isn't happy when Bev keeps cancelling on her. And we see less of mum and grandma, which isn't a bad thing, as they were a bit strident in earlier books.

Carter, a journalist, writes clean, spare prose which nails both the bleakness of the city and the pressures of Bev's job. The book's conclusion is dark and frightening. Carter employs one hackneyed method to get us there, but past that what happens is truly shocking. It leaves the way open for a compelling fourth book in a series which just gets better and better.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, July 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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