Posts Tagged ‘Sheila Radley’

Fair Game (Inspector Quantrill 9) (Bello)

This is the final book in the series and in my opinion it is one of the best.  Martin Tait – a former protégé of Douglas Quantrill’s is about to be promoted above him.  Quantrill is not too happy about this but is rather less happy about Tait cohabiting with his daughter Alison.  Tait – who is upwardly mobile – is invited to a private shoot at the Chalcot estate owned by Lewis Glaven.  Unfortunately the shoot is marred by an accident – or is it murder?


Tait finds himself in an invidious position as a witness with people putting pressure on him to play down the investigation.  This is an interesting story with lots of tensions between the main characters.  The uneasy relationship between Tait and Quantrill is very well done as is the contrasting views of many of the characters on shooting birds for sport.

This is a well-crafted and satisfying mystery and it is well written with believable and all too human characters.  The novels in this series do not have to be read in order as they all work as standalone stories.



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Derek Cartwright meets the unpleasant Hugh Packer in a traffic jam.  Hugh’s father-in-law is incapacitated following a stroke and Hugh wants to hasten his death but doesn’t want to be caught committing murder.  Derek keeps dreaming about murdering his mother-in-law who has taken up residence with him and his wife Christine.  In spite of his nightmares he doesn’t really want his mother-in-law dead he just wants her to return to her own home and give him some space to help his wife deal with the aftermath of cancer.


Unfortunately for Derek, Hugh is deadly serious and he keeps turning up wherever Derek is and bullying him into taking part in his plan because it worked in the film ‘Strangers on a Train.’  Swop murders and no one will suspect you.  The book is mainly taken up with Derek’s dithering about the whole thing and trying to find ways out of it.  There is very little about the subsequent police investigation and the ending is a little inconclusive.


I found my sympathy with Derek waned a little towards the end of the book.  I felt there were times when he could have easily solved his problems by going to the police and explaining what Packer was suggesting or even by approaching a solicitor and getting an injunction.  As a study of conscience it was interesting and kept me reading but I didn’t find Packer convincing – he was a two dimensional character.  I suppose I didn’t find it possible to suspend my disbelief in the story though it is well written.  Derek was presented as an intelligent person and to my mind he could easily have extricated himself from his problems if he’d given it any constructive thought.

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Clanger Bell, well-known local drunk, is run over and killed by new resident, Jack Goodrum.  As everyone, including the police, have been expecting this to happen because of Clanger’s well known habit of jay walking when under the influence no one is surprised.  The Coroner quickly decides, thanks to three reliable witnesses, that Jack had no chance to avoid Clanger and the death is ruled to have been accidental.  But Clanger’s sister is not happy with the verdict and contacts the police.  DCI Quantrill and DS Hilary Lloyd find themselves trying to investigate a murder case that they don’t believe in.  In the meantime Quantrill is having problems with his son and thinks he is falling in love with Hilary.


Dysfunctional families, people with irrational obsessions and a case which may date back more than thirty years keeps everyone busy in this dark and well written crime story from this underrated author.  Set in Suffolk this is a complex story with many ramifications and it will keep even the most observant reader guessing.  I enjoyed it and found it kept me reading throughout one evening and I was disappointed when I got to the end.


The book contains many well drawn characters and I like DCI Quantrill for all his faults and Hilary Lloyd has developed into an interesting character too.  Those who read the first two books in the series will be interested to see how newly promoted DCI Martin Tait is developing as he plays a part in this book.  If you like your crime novels in the conventional mode but with some darker aspects too then give this interesting series a try.

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Fate Worse Than Death (Inspector Quantrill 5) (Bello)

Beryl Websdell’s garden gnome has been kidnapped and she has received a ransom note demanding jelly beans as payment and the gnome will be returned to her.  At the same time her daughter disappears, three days before her wedding.  Has her daughter been kidnapped as well?  Beryl doesn’t believe so and the police are puzzled but not unduly worried.


DI Tait is getting on well with both his flying and his courtship of DCI Quantrill’s daughter, Alison.  He is currently on leave and staying with his wealthy Aunt Con from whom he has expectations.  When he and his aunt find the body of the missing girl Tait finds himself torn between his private life and his profession.


This is a well written crime story with some fascinating insights into the motivations of some of the series characters.  I usually read more than one book at a time but this kept me reading over two evenings because I had to know what the outcome was.  I liked the descriptions of village life and the way the suspense was built up.  The clues are there for the observant reader but it will take an observant reader to spot them.


I thought the tensions between the police officers was very well done.  DCI Quantrill was less prominent in this story but it was interesting to see more of DI Tait.  I found this story compelling reading and I think anyone who enjoys crime novels with a strong puzzle element will find it enjoyable too.  The characters are all too believable and three dimensional.  I recommend this well written story as well as the rest of the novels in the series which are equally good.

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Blood on the Happy Highway (Inspector Quantrill 4) (Bello)

Chief Inspector Douglas Quantrill and his team have been working tirelessly to try and discover the identity of a headless body found in a layby.  They are not getting on very well at all and it looks as though the case will be handed over to the Regional Crime Squad in the person of Detective Inspector Martin Tait who used to work for DCI Quantrill.  Now Quantrill has a new DS – Hilary Lloyd – allocated to him and he has some doubts about working with a woman.


This is a complex crime novel with several strands and some excellent clues which make it possible for the observant reader – not me in this case – to work out who did it and why.  Someone else will meet their death before the headless body is identified and there is plenty of painstaking detective work carried out by all the police officers concerned.  I particularly liked the way the uneasy relationship between Quantrill, Tait and Lloyd is portrayed.


I found this book an interesting and enjoyable read.  Anyone who likes their crime novels set in a small town or village will enjoy this series which is set in Suffolk.  The series can be read in any order.


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A Talent For Destruction (Inspector Quantrill 3) (Bello)

A skeleton is discovered in a filed next to the vicarage and Chief Inspector Douglas Quantrill is convinced both the vicar and his wife are lying to him when they say they do not know the identity of the skeleton.  Gradually the tragic story is revealed to the reader by means of a few chapters in the second half of the book which detail the events of the previous summer.


Quantrill himself is finding he misses his former Sergeant, Martin Tait who has been promoted to Inspector and moved on to other work and there are several aspects of the current case which he would be best suited to investigate.  Somehow he manages to piece the story together and finds himself between the law and natural justice.


This is a well written, carefully plotted crime novel with some interesting psychological aspects and some well-drawn characters.  I like Quantrill himself with his less than perfect marriage and his all too human failings.  If you enjoy crime novels which have a strong puzzle element then try this series which can be read in any order.



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The Chief Inspector's Daughter (Inspector Quantrill 2) (Bello)


Alison Quantrill has returned home to Suffolk after a failed relationship in London.  She has a lucky break and gets a job as secretary to Jasmine Woods, a well-known romantic novelist who lives in the area.  But the job doesn’t last for long because Jasmine is murdered a couple of months later.  After Alison finds the body she finds the police questioning traumatic and disappears one night.  Douglas Quantrill and his wife, Molly find her disappearance brings them closer together.


Chief Inspector Quantrill has to concentrate on his murder investigation and leave other people to search for his daughter though his personal feelings mean he is torn two ways.  I enjoyed this complex murder mystery and liked the way the series characters are developing – Quantrill himself, his wife Molly and his Sergeant Martin Tait.  The relationship between Tait and Quantrill is gradually turning into friendship and they are starting to respect each other and work well together.


This interesting series, set in Suffolk, makes a refreshing change from many modern crime novels which contain, in my opinion, too much graphic violence and bad language.  There is plenty of psychological depth to the characters and their personal problems are interesting as are their motivations.   Life in a small community is well drawn and Quantrill is likeable and all too human.  I recommend this series to anyone who likes their crime novels cast in the conventional mould.



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