3/5 stars. I liked the intriguing murder and plot, which was well developed, offering little in the way of suspects, but plenty of frustration for the investigators.
Once again, ex-DI Hillary Greene is delving into the archives, trying to discover who killed an interior designer at a swanky New Year’s Eve Party in 1999.
Somebody clearly didn’t want Felix Olliphant to enjoy the momentous occasion of seeing in not only a brand new year, but a brave new millennium. The trouble is, the more she learns about her murder victim, the less likely it seems that anyone would want him dead – he was a genuinely decent human being, and she can’t find anyone with a bad word to say about him.
To add to her woes, it seems her lover and immediate superior, Detective Superintendent Steven Crayle, is being lured away from her team with offers of a promotion elsewhere.
Can she keep her mind on the job, and find out who killed Felix? Or is this the first cold case that will defeat even her?
I first came across the author in a review and rather liked the sound of the series, featuring Hilary Greene. If I’m not mistaken, this is #15 in the series, so I’ve missed a lot, which might explain why Hillary Greene sounded like Wonderwoman when I began reading. Clearly, she’s been through the mill and back in her previous adventures as a detective inspector. Though she’s now a civilian officer in a cold case squad, she’s still treated as a DI by her superiors and colleagues alike.
It didn’t matter as A Narrow Victory works as a stand alone, though you know reading the previous books would give you a fuller and better understanding of the characters. That said, there were two new, and very different, recruits to the cold case squad. One is a young, enthusiastic Goth, the other a successful millionaire from the dot-com era, wanting to put something back into society. Or does he?
This is one of two subplots that adds to the intrigue of a story that starts slowly, burdened by rather too much physical description of the characters and work for this reader. Once the cold case concerning the death of Felix Olliphant kicks off, the pace moves up a gear. The team track down witnesses and interview them once more, hitting dead ends at every turn.
It’s somewhat leisurely, with the bulk of the action confined to journeys in an E-type jaguar and lots of conversations over cups of tea. And then suddenly, there’s a breakthrough, an arrest and the story’s wrapped up, somewhat abruptly.
Overall, I enjoyed A Narrow Victory. I liked the intriguing murder and plot, which was well developed, offering little in the way of suspects, but plenty of frustration for the investigators. The characters were well-drawn and kept me engaged. Hillary Greene seemed a little too clever and almost too good to be true, which was a shame as she had the dogged determination and resilience needed to be an effective detective. But the story ended with a welcome note of intrigue, preparing for the next novel.
If you like a cosy mystery with likeable characters, and you don’t mind a gentle pace and lots of description, this should be right up your street.