I would say this is the start of a new series but actually it’s more of a spin-off from McLeans “Deadly ….” series set in Birmingham
In this series DCI Lesley Clarke is seconded to Dorset, to recover from her injuries suffered during a Bomb attack in Birmingham
But if she thought she was in for a gentle introduction, to a quiet life, she would be very disappointed
24 hours before she is due to start her new duties she is the first Officer on a the scene when a body is discovered at an archaeological dig. This body is fresh, in fact it’s one of the team carrying out the dig.
The investigation into the murder takes Clarke and her new team into the world of academia, the murky ways of a wayward Professor, who has a liking for young ladies, and the money involved in funding major projects.
The crime investigation is a great story but the way McLean has used it to set up the next books in the series is brilliant.
Clarke herself is a great character, abrasive with a colourful approach to language. She is used to working her teams flat out in a busy metropolitan setting.
What she finds when she arrives in Dorset is a way more laid back approach, and her main man, her Sergeant, is something that she has never come across before.
DS Dennis Frampton is set to be one of the great DS’s in current crime fiction.
Frampton is a church going, throwback who seems to still think Policing is a mans job, and to Clarke’s horror, he employs a swear box in the office.
I think this is the first spin-off series I’ve ever read, and certainly the first I’ve commented on. It works. Clarke was a strong, if occasional, character in the previous series, and she certainly deserves an outing in stories of her own.
The move from writing stories based in a big city, to ones based in the slow pace of the Dorset countryside has also worked. The setting for this book is stunning and fits the story perfectly.
But perhaps the biggest gamble on Rachel McLeans part was hitting the right note when it came to integrating a successful City cop into a County Force. The obstacles that Clarke has to overcome, without being the big “I am”. The relationships she needs to form, especially with DS Frampton.
But that gamble is the reason the book has worked so well. McLean has dealt with it all perfectly. I can only hope this is the first in a long series.
Pages: 352. Published by: Ackroyd Publishing. Available now to preorder Published on 15th July 2021