#Review Close To Home by @CaraHunterBooks #DIAdamFawley #CrimeFiction #WhereIsDaisy @PenguinUKBooks @PenguinRHUK

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Close To Home by Cara Hunter
DI Adam Fawley #1
Synopsis:

HOW CAN A CHILD GO MISSING WITHOUT A TRACE?

Last night, eight-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from a family party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying.
DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows the nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew.
That means someone is lying…
And that Daisy’s time is running out.

Introducing DI Fawley and his team of Oxford detectives, and a Richard and Judy Book Club pick for Spring 2018, CLOSE TO HOME is the new crime thriller series to get addicted to.

My review:

This novel is the first in the DI Adam Fawley series.
It surrounds the disappearance of an 8yr old girl named Daisy Mason.
Daisy disappears from a neighbourhood barbeque on a quiet suburban street. From the outside Daisy has the picture perfect lower middle-class existence.
But once you get closer to home, you realise nothing, is ever as perfect as it seems…..

The police team called in to deal with the aftermath of the disappearance are a mixed bunch of characters. But as we learn over the course of the novel DI Fawley is carrying a deep personal pain. As the coppers try to ascertain the facts, the last known sighting of Daisy and the family’s lifestyle. Everything suddenly becomes so much more complex. The Mason’s are far from the perfect family. But do they have something to hide?

Daisy’s mother Sharon is a bossy, vain woman, more consumed with her own image than her two young children. Her father Barry was close to his daughter, but something recently made her retract from him and resent his presence. Older brother Leo is only 10yrs old. He is quiet, bullied and withdrawn, he presents as a child with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
I got the sense he felt unloved and ignored as the investigation unfolded.
I just wanted to give him a hug and tell him everything would be alright.
I may have felt that way, but neither his mother or father did.

The timeline in the novel moves around, from the present day to the days leading up to the disappearance. There is so much more to this family, this neighbourhood and this little girl, than meets the eye. The novel also has a series of Tweets and articles scattered throughout. They make the case feel more realistic and you can easily imagine the media pressure piled onto the police at work. The #FindDaisy becomes a national cause and the family are facing trial by Twitter. Where there every move/look is subject to scrutiny. I found this reminiscent of the Madeleine Mccann case, where the mother was made the ultimate villain. Is Sharon the villain of the story or just a selfish woman? Under intense media scrutiny, I think most ordinary people could have their actions taken out of context. This adds an interesting dynamic to the family’s story, you have to separate the fact from the speculation.

The police officer characters are written very accurately. The novel shows how the case of a missing little girl gets under the skin of the detectives. How policing can be more than just a job, it can be a way of life.
I wish we the reader, had gotten to know more about the detective’s personal lives. But I respect the fact that this is a first in a series and the author is laying the ground work for the series to continue. I hope we learn more about DI Fawley in the series in the future.

There are ample twists and turns within the novel, that keep you guessing. The writing style reminded me of Belinda Bauer, who is one of my favourite authors.
It finishes with a jaw-dropping ending and I look forward to the next novel in the DI Adam Fawley series. 4.5*

Cara Hunter:
Cara Hunter is the pen-name of an established novelist starting a new life of crime in a series of Oxford-based books to be published by Viking/Penguin. Though this is not the Oxford of leafy quads and dreaming spires but an altogether edgier, unkinder place. The first novel, Close to Home, will be out in January 2018, with a second slated for later that year. “So many people who’ve read Close to Home compare it to Broadchurch, and in my book, that’s a compliment to kill for…”
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#CharacterProfile Serjeant Catchpoll Marked To Die by Sarah Hawkswood @bradecote @AllisonandBusby #HistoricalFiction #Mystery

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Marked To Die by Sarah Hawkswood 
A Bradecote and Catchpoll mystery
Synopsis:
October 1143. His task dispatched, a mysterious archer melts back into the forest leaving a pile of corpses in his wake. The lord Sheriff of Worcester cannot ignore such a brazen attack on the salt road from Wich, nor the death of a nobleman in the wrong place at the wrong time. And so Hugh Bradecote and Serjeant Catchpoll are dispatched to hunt an elusive killer and his gang, and put a stop to the mounting attacks.

But it is not easy to get the culprits in their sights with a reeve keen to keep his position at all costs, a lord with his own ends to serve and a distrusting and vengeful widow to whom Bradecote is increasingly attracted.

Character profile:

SERJEANT CATCHPOLL
I never wanted my detectives to be flawless, or Holmesian in their ability to solve the crimes placed before them. What is important is that they are human, and also men of their time. In fact Catchpoll is very much a ‘proto-copper’ in the mould of Terry Pratchett’s Sam Vimes. I always think ‘Vimesy’ and Catchpoll would understand each other perfectly, and have an equal disregard for the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. They both fight dirty, have a deep sense of justice, and side with justice over the Law, which are not always totally in agreement. Both also know the power of creating their own myth, though neither would phrase it in that way.

Catchpoll, in terms of looks, has always been one man to me, taken from an image in a newspaper way back when the idea of the series formed in my head, and I saw a black and white portrait in a newspaper of the actor about to play a leading role at the RSC. I knew instantly ‘he’ was Catchpoll, from the gash of a mouth as a grim line in the grizzled stubble to the hard eyes with the deep crow’s feet at their corners, and the straggling, untrimmed hair. When I write him I see him as that every moment, and since Matt Addis has brought his voice to life in the audiobooks of the first two novels, I can hear the Worcestershire accent in every word. When it comes to the actual character of the man, he is in part someone I have known all my life. I am the product of three generations of Royal Marines senior NCOs, and, as some reviewers have noted, Catchpoll is your classic senior NCO. I drew heavily on my father’s pragmatism, practicality, and humanity. Catchpoll fulfils what he knows the people of Worcester expect the Sheriff’s Sergeant to be, unflappable, sometimes omniscient, tough and intolerant of fools. His view is that the criminals have to know that however mean and clever bastards they think themselves, Serjeant Catchpoll is for certain a meaner and cleverer one. He actively encourages this belief as a deterrence to crime in ‘his’ Worcester.

Thus Catchpoll seems as hard as nails, and prefers to be seen that way, but some things get through to his inner softness, which he then rushes to conceal. He is inclined to be tetchy, is always cynical, frequently insubordinate, and he has an inordinate and apparently illogical dislike of the Welsh, though that is explained in the sixth book in the series. He also talks to corpses, not in a ghoulish way, but because he is in essence ‘interviewing’ them as he would someone who could speak, and by asking the questions that their physical condition can answer, he finds it easier to see and store the information gleaned.

His relationship with Hugh Bradecote, the new Undersheriff, is one that develops gradually, from antipathy to grudging acceptance and then respect and trust. It had to be an arc, and a natural one at that, not some ‘buddy cop’ scenario. It has to be remembered also that outside of the important crimes, or crimes involving important people, he works alone, though he has now got Walkelin as his ‘serjeanting apprentice’, and imparting his knowledge to his protégé is something he quietly enjoys, though he would not tell Walkelin that. It also saves his creaky knees, of which he often complains.

Solving murder would not be an easy task in the twelfth century, and in reality the ‘cases’ where killers were caught were those where a community hue and cry brought in the perpetrator, not the Sheriff’s men hunting for clues. Having ‘detectives’ is an invention, but then the mediaeval murder mystery as a genre has to have them in some form. It would be a world where every piece of information and evidence has to be stored in memory, rather than annotated in a notebook, and the detective’s almost sole asset would be his ability to observe with all the senses and ‘read’ his fellow man. Both attributes are as useful to the modern detective too, of course, but now there are written statements, evidence bags, SOCOs etc. Sometimes Bradecote and Catchpoll make errors in their mental filing, forget something, give it too much value or not enough. I think it important that they can do that, and if the reader works out who did it before they do I do not think it matters. What is important is enjoying taking their journey to the solving of the crime. I certainly enjoy working with them.

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Sarah Hawkswood
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