Review: Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham

A quirky, dynamic and utterly unique detective novel

“For Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths, her first murder is a case of jumping in at the deep end – a woman and her six-year-old daughter killed with chilling brutality in a dingy flat.  The only clue: the platinum bank card of a long-dead tycoon, found amidst the squalor – and the rookie DC’s task is to figure out why.

Her boss, DCI Jackson, is confident Fiona is worth her place on the team.  She’s already proved herself whip-smart, resourceful and dedicated to the job.  But there’s another side to her that Fiona is less keen to reveal.  Something to do with a mysterious two-year gap in her CV.  With her strange inability to cry. And a disconcerting familiarity with corpses.

Fiona is desperate to put the past behind her.  But as more gruesome killings follow, the case starts leading her inexorably back into those dark places in her own mind where another dead girl is waiting to be found.  Herself.”

This book is different to any other detective novel I’ve read.  In a good way.  In a very good way.

Fiona Griffiths is a dynamic, smart and highly resourceful DC.  With the story told from her viewpoint, we get a highly personal view of the hunt for the truth about what happened to Janet and April Mancini.  As an early-career DC, Fiona has to fight for her place on the team investigating the murders, and fight (and win) she does.

Whilst Fiona, due to her past, is a rather troubled character, she’s also refreshingly up-beat and energetic to be around.  A bit of a maverick, she often ‘goes the extra mile’ (read: not necessarily following procedure), usually to the irritation of her DCI.  But even while I was cringing, hoping she didn’t get caught doing something ‘off the book’, I couldn’t help admire her for her determination and resolve.  Because for Fiona finding out the truth, and unravelling a mass of seemingly unrelated clues, is critical.

And it’s that drive to find the truth that, as she gets closer, begins to threaten both her safety and her sanity.  As the body-count increases, Fiona stays focused despite the rising danger, and equips herself with the tools she needs to feel in control – even if they’re not exactly standard police issue!

This is a story, and a character, that’ll stay with you long after the book is finished.  Intriguing, terrifying and quirkily fun, this novel will make you miss the train, be late for work, and want to stay in to read a few more chapters rather than party.  And it’ll be worth it.

Highly recommended.

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