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by Natasha Cooper
Simon & Schuster, February 2007
336 pages
17.99 GBP
ISBN: 0743263103

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

I haven't read a book by Natasha Cooper for about ten years, due to the fact I really couldn't get on at all with her Willow King series. Several people said her series featuring London barrister Trish Maguire was worth trying and they turned out to be right.

This is a civilised, measured series featuring a tenacious main character. Cooper doesn't fall into the trap that many writers do of failing to convince the reader that the amateur sleuth has a reason to be investigating. As a barrister, Trish is used to digging out facts. And she is willing to pass on information she finds to the police and defence solicitors.

The book opens with the murder of the heavily pregnant Cecilia Mayford, a lost adjuster. She and Trish have been working on the same case attempting to find out why a new London landmark has developed cracks. Trish also discovers she knows Cecilia's strange partner Sam, now a sculptor, but once a badly damaged boy whom Trish encountered professionally.

The police are convinced that Sam, a man with anger management issues, killed Cecilia, and reckon CCTV evidence proves it. Trish isn't convinced, though, and starts uncovering links with the enquiry into the faulty Arrow building. And her investigations set her at odds with her close friend DCI Caro Lyalt, who is in charge of the case.

Cooper is an intelligent and literate writer, who gives Trish an unusual but believable family life her much younger half-brother David lives with her, and her solicitor partner George, who has problems of his own, is often on the scene. Her London feels real, and the descriptive passages as Trish criss-crosses the city feel like they come from someone who really loves the capital city.

Trish is a generally likeable character, although the only residue for me of the unfortunate Willow King series is Cooper's tendency to overload her books with smug middle class types, whilst portraying anyone working class as 'gor blimey' stereotypes.

This isn't an all-action novel, and does lack some tension. It's soundly plotted and fluently written, but is missing that bit of sparkle that would push it into a higher league. But it's an enjoyable book and one that's persuaded me to seek out the earlier books in the Trish series.

NB: The book has been published in the US under the title EVIL IS DONE.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, February 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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