‘Recalled to Death‘ is the sixth book in the Martha Gunn, police procedural series by the ever reliable Priscilla Masters.
Martha Gunn is a coroner who lives in Shrewsbury, has uncontrollable flaming red hair and is the mother of twins. Her husband died when the twins were babies.
(The twins are now adults and feature less in this story than they have in previous books.)
The book opens with someone – we know not who – looking at a grave of an unknown person. Then we cut to the discovery of a homeless man bundled up in a thick overcoat lying on some steps in the grounds of a ruined castle. On closer discovery, it is noted that, unfortunately, his throat has been slashed. Violently.
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The case is investigated by DI Alex Randall and his dysfunctional team. In common with so many fictional detectives, Alex Randall is a troubled man cloaked in an air of mystery. He is riddled with angst and, you’ve guessed it, an unrequited love for Martha Gunn.
Does Alex admire Martha’s razor sharp mind and obvious intellect? Probably not. Is his interest piqued by her large rambling house and affluent middle class lifestyle? Unlikely, he’s beyond such things. No, he is definitely attracted by her amazingly unruly and untamed wild red hair. This is a woman who has never possessed a pair of hair straighteners in her life. If we checked her bathroom we’d probably discover that she doesn’t even own a humble hairdryer; this woman’s hair runs wild and it runs free!
During the course of the book we learn a bit about Alex’s background but are left wanting to know even more.
Martha definitely wants to know more about Alex; she is attracted by his unnaturally long legs and wants to know what problems make him hunch his shoulders and walk around the picturesque town of Shrewsbury in a state of impending doom.
There are a host of suspects who are interviewed by various members of Randall’s team; a team who all seem to be living up to the example set by their boss by possessing complex and unhappy home lives.
I enjoyed ‘Recalled to Death’. It was a good read which had an extremely complicated and, somewhat unbelievable, explanation of the crime. Well, let’s face it – a very very far fetched explanation of the crime. (Although perhaps it reminded me vaguely of a true life crime documentary I once watched.)
For me, the prose was marred by an unnecessary, harrowing description of a new born baby’s condition. It was so unpalatable to me that I seriously considered not continuing with the book.
However, I did persevere and, reaching the end, I was amused to find that the guilty party possessed, a ‘mind as devious as Hampton Court Maze’.
Overall, I would recommend this book!
Why not support your local high street and pop down to pick up a copy from your local independent bookseller or visit your local library!
This is what other reviewers had to say:
“Masters perfectly conveys the loss where her victim is concerned, giving him credence as a human being rather than as another statistic. In all, ‘Recalled to Death’ is Masters on full-throttle and I hope she continues in this same vein. Highly recommended.”Crime Squad
“This is an understated series that deserves attention”Booklist
“Details that hint at future developments for several characters will leave readers eager for the next instalment”Publishers Weekly