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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Stop Dead

‘Stop Dead’ is the fifth book in the Geraldine Steel series from Leigh Russell. I’ve enjoyed all the books in the series so far, and was really pleased to be sent a copy of this one by the publishers.

The last book in the series saw Geraldine move from a provincial police force in Kent to London to join the Met. Now, in book five, she is settling in to her new job and her new life, making new friends and working out her place in the new professional structure in which she finds herself.

I was delighted though, that we get the added bonus of some welcome glimpses of her former life and colleagues in this story, in particular an appearance from Ian, Geraldine’s former sergeant and a popular character in the earlier books.

This book wastes no time getting into the action of the plot. A successful businessman is brutally murdered, and at first the police suspect his glamorous wife and her young lover may have something to do with it. But when his business partner is also murdered it becomes clear there is more to it than meets the eye.

Bafflingly, the only clues in the case lead in a direction that seems impossible - to two women: one dead, the other in prison. It is left to Geraldine and her colleagues to attempt to find out who is doing it and why before more people die.

Like the books that came earlier in the series, this one doesn’t flinch from exploring dark themes, but as ever it is done in a way which throws light on the plot and on the motives of the murderer.

Leigh Russell has kept Geraldine’s story fresh by moving her to a new place, but in any case there seems no danger of the Geraldine Steel series growing stale. This book did feel different from the others in many ways – it’s hard to say much more than that without giving away too much about the plot. If you want to know what I mean, you’ll have to read it! For fans of Geraldine there is enough here that feels familiar and recognisably a DI Steel story, but equally plenty to intrigue and move things in a different direction.

As always, the balance of criminal investigation and storyline about Geraldine’s own life is spot on. As this series goes on we find out more about Geraldine’s personal life and that has become an intriguing conundrum in itself. I look forward to another instalment of this in the next book.

For lovers of crime fiction and strong female protagonists this is a brilliant, not to be missed, novel. I couldn’t put it down and read it very quickly in a couple of sittings, so keen was I to know what was going on and what the outcome would be.

Many thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book.

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