Friday, August 18, 2017

Review of The Dust of Death by Paul Charles (Brandon Press, 2008)

A man is found crucified in the non-denominational Second Federation Church in the small village of Ramelton in North Donegal. The victim is a local master carpenter and he was having an affair with the Minister’s wife, who has disappeared. Inspector Starrett and his team are soon tracking down clues, interviewing locals as they try to determine who was responsible. All the evidence points to the Minister, but he is adamant that he was ignorant of the affair and innocent of the murder.

The Dust of Death is the first book in a pair of Inspector Starrett mysteries set in northern Donegal. This one focuses on solving the murder by crucifixion of a local carpenter. Starrett is a genial though lovelorn copper who had a career as a classic car dealer in London before returning to Ireland and becoming a policeman. Despite the gruesome murder, the tale is somewhat of a cosie-style police procedural – a kind of Ballykissangel meets Midsomer Murders mystery set in a small village full of characters and gossips. The tale is pleasant enough, but suffers from a weakness in detail with regards to characters (one policeman is a champion hurler from Galway but plays for Donegal; another is 72 years old and a former major in the British Army – both highly unlikely) and police procedure, which seems to lack structure and process but rather meanders along. Indeed, a logical and critical question is not asked by the police at the start of the investigation that would have led to it being solved very quickly. The result is a light-hearted tale that lacks depth and substance.

No comments: