Monday, December 24, 2018

Review of The Treacherous Strand by Andrea Carter (Constable, 2016)

Marguerite Etienne, a French woman living on the Inishowen peninsula is found washed up on a shore, her clothes on a beach on the other side of the bay. It appears she has committed suicide by walking out into the sea. Solicitor Benedicta ‘Ben’ O’Keeffe is not so sure. The woman had visited her the night before looking to make a will and was due back to sign it. Surely she would have completed putting her affairs in order before killing herself? The police, however, move to close the case. Unable to believe the death wasn’t suspicious, Ben starts to dig around, discovering that the woman had been acting strangely in the last year and had a troubled past linked to a cult. She becomes convinced there is more to the case, but her meddling exposes secrets and places her in danger.

The Treacherous Strand is the second book in the Inishowen mysteries series featuring solicitor Benedicta ‘Ben’ O’Keeffe. This outing sees Ben investigating the suspicious death of one her clients, a troubled French woman, which the police has ruled suicide. Her unconsummated romance with a local policeman is on rocky ground, so she is pursuing the case solo. Inevitably, her nosing about unearths secrets and unsettles the small rural community. The cosy-feel to the story, the close rural village set-up, the colourful community and mix of characters, and a blow-in lead character reminded me of the TV series Ballykissangel given a mystery spin. The result was a certain charm to the storytelling, with a plot that jaunted along. While there was strong telegraphing as to the denouement, there is also a nice twist. My main issue with the tale was the over-use of two plot devices to make everything work: interruptions that led to information not being passed on or the deliberate holding back of things when they should have been shared regardless of any personal romantic strife. There were also a couple of things that made little sense to me. Nonetheless, this is a story carried along by its charm and lead character and was an enjoyable read.

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