My wife has gotten to know Mary Simonsen through her Jane Austen fan fiction writing. When Mary came out with this novel my wife suggested that I read it and provide a review as an encouragement to Mary. My fear was whether I would like the book or not, I didn't want to give a bad review :)
I was very pleasantly pleased with the Novel. Detective Patrick Shea provides us with a solid British Police Detective who is compassionate, loyal, strong willed and frankly, good at his job. Along with his partner Molly they provide a great dual of police work.
The book starts out with Shea and Updike on a stakeout to try and catch a 'cat burglar' who has been victimizing a particular community. Their efforts pay off and they catch the 'gentlemen' burglar as he is exiting his latest victims home. Upon being caught the burglar doesn't resist but instead offers a rose to Detective Shea for a job well done in catching him. Obviously this sets Shea up for all kinds of ribbing from fellow officers.
Detective Shea is writing up reports when an old friend shows up from a previous station that he worked. This friend wants to inform Shea that his former girlfriend has been assaulted and is in the hospital. Shea is concerned and goes to visit her. Upon entering the room he discovers that he still has deep feelings for her.
The book deals with police procedures, personal vendetta's and romance. Each theme plays an important role in the short novel. Each theme is well developed and well written. The characters are well developed and you learn enough about each to draw you in and give you a firm position on which to either like or dislike a particular character.
What I found very intriguing is that Mary got the details correct. For more than 10 years I served as a volunteer Police Chaplain and during that time I learned how police officers work and the camaraderie that they develop. When you sit on a stake out with someone for hours you get to know them. When you get shot at along side another officer you grow a loyalty and solid working relationship. As you solve crimes together you learn to understand your partner and his or her needs and how they work.
Mary gets the relationships. She builds them well and strings them together in a story that is very true to the real life that a policeman lives.
What I enjoyed most is that the crimes that Detective Shea was solving were not heinous, they were not vicious, they were the everyday small items that police officers handle all the time. They are the mundane. But Mary wrote the story in such a way as to draw you in, give you enough excitement to keep you turning the pages and enough reality to make you want to see a good outcome for both Detective Shea and his one time girlfriend.
This is a great story and I look forward to reading more Detective Shea novels.
Oh, and by the way, Mary does a great job in getting the terms correct for a British police novel. When you buy the book you might want to turn to the end of the book and read the glossary of terms first before starting the novel, that will help you understand the story a bit better.
If you know any police officers you might give them this book as a gift because they will "Get It" as they read.