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by Beverly Connor
Piatkus, July 2009
421 pages
7.99 GBP
ISBN: 0749941839

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

A new mayor is elected in Rosewood, Georgia, setting off a chain of events that culminates in his murder and that of the newly appointed chief of police. Diane Fallon, although no longer the head of the crime lab, is called upon to investigate, particularly as all the evidence points to the former chief of detectives as the culprit. Diane swiftly realizes, however, that the crimes go far beyond Rosewood and that she is in grave danger.

SCATTERED GRAVES is a pleasant read, but its structure is odd. It begins in medias res, meaning that the election, the appointment of new staff and the firing of Fallon, among other things, all take place before the novel begins. Connor labours to set out the back-story, while it would have been better, in my view, to have gone into the events in more detail. It would have made for a longer novel, but avoided the concertina effect experienced now. Fallon is attacked within a few pages of the novelís beginning and the mayor and chief of police are killed fairly quickly, leaving the rest of the novel as a drawn-out investigation into the culprits. I would have preferred to have seen more of the history. Fallon being replaced as head of the crime lab is particularly odd, as we do not get much of an idea of the sense of injustice that she would have felt. The reasons behind the early assault on Fallonís life also take an age to be explained.

The early pages of the novel also contain a lengthy disquisition on how DNA analysis works. While I like to see science included in novels, this felt more like the author endeavouring to explain everything that might be of interest to the reader and crucial to the novel in one go, rather than feeding it to the reader in dribs and drabs. This felt slightly strange, as did the scene towards the end of the novel with the "talking computer". Artificial intelligence may be developing every day, but it felt extremely strange.

Notwithstanding these comments, I found that SCATTERED GRAVES had an interesting and innovative plot, read well and moved smoothly. The ending was also a bit of a surprise and leaves the possibility for Connor to pick up the plot in a future novel. The Diane Fallon series is an enjoyable one and I will certainly read the next book in it.

Reviewed by Luke Croll, July 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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