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by Patricia Hall
Allison & Busby, March 2007
311 pages
18.99 GBP
ISBN: 0749081791

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

As my book group will testify, casting the main characters in the books we read has become something of an obsession for us. So I spent most of DEATH IN A FAR COUNTRY trying to work out who should play the role of DCI Michael Thackeray. I always imagine him as a younger and better-looking but still lowering version of the politician Gordon Brown.

Patricia Hall's series would probably transfer well to the small screen, but I'll have to get back to you on viable casting suggestions for Thackeray and his journalist girlfriend Laura Ackroyd!

DEATH IN A FAR COUNTRY is a bleak and dark addition to a series where the events of the previous book and Laura's nose for trouble threaten to drive her and Thackeray apart for good.

The enquiry into Superintendent Jack Longley and the DCI's behaviour in the previous case where Laura and Thackeray's professional lives collided with serious consequences is still hanging over all concerned.

Thackeray was wounded but is back at work despite being barely fit. And straight away he's pitched into a murder case where a young black woman is found dead in a Bradfield canal. Laura, meanwhile, is covering the story at the town football club where the old-timers are determined to oust the new young female chairman as the team gears up for the biggest game in club history.

Hall is a talented writer whose understated style works perfectly in the bleak urban setting. She surrounds her two leads, who seem destined to have the rocky relationship to end them all, with some sharp cameos. Particularly memorable are Jenna Heywood, the ambitious young woman who has inherited the football club, the 'fan with a typewriter' sports editor Tony Holloway and Paolo Minelli, the Italian team manager. There's also a brief appearance for Laura's ex-pat father, and not too much of grandmother Joyce, who has been a tiresome presence in other books.

The ending is a touch neat and all threads do seem too easily resolved. And Hall does underplay the tension as Laura puts herself in danger again. But DEATH IN A FAR COUNTRY is otherwise a taut and compelling page-turner.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, February 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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