Talking To The Dead – Harry Bingham

Most of you crime fiction fans out there will be aware this isn’t a new release – far from it; it’s the first in the series now numbering three (the other two are Love Story,With Murders, and The Strange Death Of Fiona Griffiths.)

I really enjoyed this book, set in Cardiff, for pretty much one reason – the main character, recently promoted Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths. She’s smart (but not too much so), pretty (without being gorgeous), very witty, which very much lightens the book up, and unique, in a very specific way I’d certainly never came across before. But no spoilers here in case THERE IS anyone else who hasn’t read this!

At the beginning of the novel Fiona’s stuck with a pile of paperwork, building a case against a bent copper-turned-bursar who ripped the school in question off for hundreds of thousands. It’s dull work, until her colleague, DS David Brydon, shows her a platinum credit card which had belonged to a local business magnate who had died in a light aircraft accident, body never recovered, nine months previously.

It’s where the card’s turned up that’s the interesting part – in a squat, in a rough part of town, frequented by prostitutes and johns. And they’d come across this pretty scruffy property after an anonymous female phone call suggested they should investigate the address. There they find the bodies of Janet Mancini, mum and part-time prostitute, and her daughter, April.

Fi and Dave are pulled on to the enquiry, which, perhaps predictably, means Fi spends a lot of time doing her own investigations, for which she is given mini-bollockings, but because she appears to be getting answers, they aren’t too bad.

I found parts of the plot of this book hung together in a tad far-fetched way (which is my way of saying I struggled to make sense of some of Fi’s conclusions,but, hey, maybe I’m dumb and need everything spelt out for me!) But Fi’s witty personality, her family, and DS Dave Bryson all combine to make a promising and welcome start to a new female detective series. Fans of Jane Casey’s Maeve Kerrigan series should give this author a shot, or those of Tana French (although her plots are better developed.)