GAME OF BONES #18 – REVIEWS
‘Geraldine Evans has done it again. The distinguished, veteran British crime writer has turned out another crackling, entertaining and highly satisfying crime mystery in her Rafferty & Llewellyn, British mystery series, Game of Bones – 18th in the series.
Once again, we have the delightful team of maverick, intuitive Inspector Rafferty and his stolid, infinitely irritating and endlessly disapproving sergeant sidekick, Llewellyn – bickering and quibbling their way to a conclusion to the case – with Inspector Rafferty spewing steams of exasperation out of his ears. It is funny all the way, in its endearingly charming expose of human foibles, follies and peccadilloes.
Yes, we have a brutal murder of a distinguished university professor, yes, we have another professor suspect, and another equally suspicious character, a sashaying, swishy, fashion-loving young man (tsk, task, Ms. Evans). Yes, we have numerous twists and turns, reversals and red herrings. But running through the narrative is the very funny, subtle competition between maverick inspector Rafferty with his 6th sense and his plodding logician of a sergeant, Llewellyn.
Rafferty starts off with a bang of confidence, convinced he has already nailed the murderer in an airtight case, but his methodical sergeant has other ideas, and slowly we see Rafferty’s convictions dissolved in a puddle of self-doubt. This thread runs all throughout the investigation and I thoroughly enjoyed the company of these two sparring partners, and Rafferty’s discomposure as his sergeant’s thesis seems to be confirmed by the investigation.
And of course, round every corner of the investigation, we meet a whole series of captivating, eccentric characters, some unsavory, some just normal folk, and some bizarre beyond belief.
One of my favorites was the landlord of one of the suspects, Sebastian Carlton, who says to the two officers:
You go through his stuff good. Make sure he no steal from me. He vain boy. Wear crevets. Must be poof. No girlfriends. Never.
That got a bark of a laugh out of me (and a bit of finger wagging at Ms. Evans). Also endearing is Rafferty’s mum who engages in a moment of hen-pecking and brow beating of her officer son.
As we roll along on this rollicking ride (alliteration there), we are accompanied on this journey by a very comforting, reassuring companion–and that is Ms. Evans prose. Written with such beautiful cadences, rhythms and modulations, it is almost a lost world of ‘old fashioned values,’ when the beauties of the English language were de rigeur in any novel, crime or otherwise. Ms. Evans has the inner ear for language missing from so many contemporary crime novelists, with their fiendishly clever plots and utilitarian prose. We hear it in the controlled rhythms and dramatic pacing of her sentences. It is not flowery, literary language. This is not Alan Hollinghurst here. The prose has the hard edge appropriate to a crime novel. But it is there all the same, creating in the background a sense of gentle order and rightness in a confused world, peopled as it is by eccentrics and criminals, capable of nefarious deeds. Her prose style is one of the characters of the book.
And now we come to the ending, the denouement, when all is revealed – the test of any good crime novel. I didn’t see it coming, which, of course, is a good thing – and it happened so fast and so convincingly that it took my breath away. It was one of those “Aha, Eureka” moments we have all had in our lives. For example, we search our bookshelves for a favorite book and can’t seem to find it, no matter how hard we try or how many times we run through the shelves. Then we go out to dinner, have a few martinis and a bottle of wine, come back home and there is the book winking at us on the central shelf, right in front of our nose.
This is what happens to Inspector Rafferty. The clue was there all the time, he just couldn’t see it. But once he does see it, everything makes perfect sense for him and for us the readers as well. This is the technique of a master craftsperson. Because of this brilliantly executed ending, I finished the book with that deep sense of satisfaction that is the primary pleasure of crime writing. Thank you, Ms Evans, you’ve done it again. And we all look forward to Volume 19th of your Rafferty and Llewellyn British mystery series.
A pleasurable five stars.’
Richard Cameron, CRIME FICTION REVIEW
BLOOD ON THE BONES
I forgot about this one!
‘Blood on the Bones is the 9th book in British author Geraldine Evans’ Rafferty and Llewellyn cozy mystery series and I found it a very absorbing read. This is a crime novel with depth and substance, which exchanges cheap thrills for some very meditative ruminations on religious faith and doubt, spiced with a bit of wry humor and some wicked plot twists that made me laugh out loud. A body has been discovered buried in the gardens of the Carmelite Monastery of the Immaculate Conception. Detective Inspector Joseph Rafferty, a lapsed Catholic of long repute, is assigned to the case and finds himself confronting the demons of his own harsh Catholic upbringing. As Inspector Rafferty follows the tangled clues in the case, he finds himself confronting his own religious and spiritual yearnings. Is a spiritual awakening on the horizon or even a full re-conversion to his Catholic past? Hardly likely for the astute, acutely rational Rafferty. But then one never knows. This case is bringing to the surface more questions than the simple `whodunit’. I thoroughly enjoyed the read and appreciated Geraldine Evans’ quiet restraint in avoiding all sensationalism. She has managed to combine some serious reflections on religious themes of doubt and faith and the abuses of a repressive religious system together with a crackling police procedural that is both funny and shocking at the same time. Speaking as a former Trappist monk, I can say that her characterizations of the nuns in this contemplative order are spot on! Philosophical reflections, shocks and laughs all blended smoothly together in one crime novel. That’s quite a feat. I’ve now started the 3rd book in the series, Death Line, about a famous psychic, adviser to the stars, who fails to predict his own grisly murder. The author had me laughing by the second page! Well done!’ RICHARD DEMMA, www.crimescenereviews.com
DEAD BEFORE MORNING
Book review: DEAD BEFORE MORNING (Rafferty and Llewellyn Police Procedural Series #1) by Geraldine Evans
‘A lively and highly engrossing British mystery…
Evans’s first installment in Rafferty and Llewellyn Police Procedural Series see DI Rafferty and Sergeant Llewellyn investigating vicious murder of a young woman at an unlikely place.
Recently promoted Detective Inspector Joe Rafferty and Detective Sergeant Llewellyn are sent out to a local psychiatric institution to investigate brutal murder of an unidentified young woman. The pair’s digging into the lives of hospital staff and other people stirs fears of what secrets might be revealed.
The gusty, resolute Rafferty and the gruff, scholarly Llewellyn’s odd pairing and their comic banter is a treat to read. Illegal drugs, jealous colleagues, and scorned lovers all mix into the intrigue. Short chapters with top-notch prose, and catchy, ironic dialogue keep the action moving.
Evans’s successful maintenance of the spunk and humor throughout the story will earn her a devoted following.’
BY DEBORAH LLOYD OF READERS’ FAVORITE
‘Geraldine Evans has written an entertaining mystery novel in Dead Before Morning: Rafferty & Llewellyn British Mystery Series.
The mystery is engaging from the first page to the last, with many twists and turns. The ending is unexpected, although the author skillfully places clues along the way. The two main characters are well-described, and the complexities of their relationship added an intriguing element to the story. The inclusion of Rafferty family members, part of a large Irish Catholic clan, adds another interesting layer to the story; this is contrasted by Llewellyn’s only-child, single lifestyle. Dead Before Morning: Rafferty & Llewellyn British Mystery Series, written by Geraldine Evans, is a fascinating mystery. It is the first of an eighteen-book series; every reader will want to devour the next seventeen books!’