Reviewer: Anne Stormont
This review was Highly Commended by the Scottish Association of Writers in its 2015 Book Review Competition.
What We Thought: This is the fourth book in a series based on the personal and working
life of Scotland Yard officer, Detective Inspector Beatrice Stubbs.
However, it's not necessary to have read the others in order to be able
to follow this one. Like its predecessors it can stand alone.
read and enjoyed the other three and so my expectations were high, but I
was also apprehensive in case this latest one didn't live up to the
high standards of the earlier books. I needn't have worried. It was the
best yet. Author JJ Marsh has produced another excellent piece of crime
Beatrice Stubbs is a wonderful creation. She's complex, flawed and utterly believable.
not only a clever, successful and gutsy police officer, but she also
has mental-health issues and faces some difficulties in her relationship
with her long-term partner, Matthew.
Her occasional malapropisms
only add to her endearing qualities. For example she mentions 'not
upsetting the apple tart', and needing 'forty wings' when sleepy.
job often takes her abroad and involves her working jointly with
foreign police forces. In Cold Pressed, when a British woman, a
passenger aboard a cruise ship sailing around the Greek islands, dies
after being thrown from a cliff whilst ashore, Beatrice is sent to
investigate alongside Inspector Stephanakis of the Greek police. The
setting, of course, lends itself to beautiful visual descriptions, and
Marsh certainly brings Santorini, the Cyclades and the Dodecanese to
life. The reader can see the bluest of seas, feel the hottest sunshine,
taste the delicious food.
But there's menace too and there are
serious crimes to be solved, and what Beatrice had hoped would be a
straightforward and brisk investigation, becomes a more prolonged and
difficult case when two more of the ship's passengers are discovered to
have been murdered. Beatrice and Inspector Stephanakis must stay with
the ship and get to know the captain, crew and guests. Before both
police officers find their own lives in danger when they discover a dark
secret and a murder suspect out for revenge.
But Cold Pressed is
much more than a simple police-procedural tale. Marsh is an excellent
story-weaver. The plot twists and turns, the suspense is compelling. The
intertwining of the details of the case and Beatrice's personal demons
is clever and credible and gives the plot a multi-layered feel. All the
characters, major and minor, are well drawn and believable. As a reader,
you're drawn in and made to care about them as you feel the terror and
panic that sweeps the ship.
Marsh's economical, highly visual prose make this book a deceptively easy read, but at the same time a most satisfying one.
You'll enjoy this is you like: Alexander McCall Smith, Agatha Christie and characters you wish were real
Avoid if you dislike: Greece, cruise ships, and an absence of graphic violence
Ideal accompaniments: a meze platter, a glass of ouzo with water and a sunlounger
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