IT is always doubly pleasurable if you recognise the setting of a book and local author Tony Clark’s latest novel, Thieves’ Gate, a sequel to Cosimo’s Room, is set in the villages of the Chilterns alongside the M40.
Detective Inspector Laura Baxter and Sergeant Eryl Grodek continue to be the most effective team in the Chiltern Police but this time they are upstaged by investigator Matt Hoyle, called in by the directors of a company to investigate financial malpractice.
The chief suspect, the company’s ex-MD, has scarcely been introduced when he witnesses what he believes to be a murder and assault in the locked computer room. The assault victim is his wife whom he packs off to Central Europe for the rest of the book and the supposed murder victim disappears from the crime scene. Is he dead? Or is he driving around the Chilterns in a bright red car? And how did he get out of a locked computer room, dead or alive?
As the detectives and Matt start their investigation another suspected murder takes place and the action gathers pace. Meanwhile the problems of female police officers — trying to balance a career as detective with the problems of home and family — are explored.
The author has said that there are clues scattered throughout his books, but I was on the last five pages before I found out the identity of the killer. My own choice for major suspect had got himself bumped off by the real killer before the end. So it was indeed a good mystery.
This e-book could have benefited from tighter editing (50 pages shorter would not have taken anything from the plot and might have heightened the suspense) and I would have liked a dramatis personae and a map of the fictitious Chiltern villages. But I certainly got caught up in the suspense, trying to adopt the mindset of Matt Hoyle and the two detectives, and was turning the pages ever faster to reach the dénouement.
by Tony Clark