Saturday, November 21

No Corners for the Devil - Olive Etchells

Concerned about the increasing level of crime in Manchester, Rob Baxter left the city and brought his family to South Cornwall. He and wife Sally bought a round house for themselves and their three children (seventeen year old Luke, fifteen year old Tessa and sensitive baby of the family Ben), along with four cottages to rent out to summer tourists. On the morning of their first arrivals Ben and his friend Malachi find a girl's body on the beach - a girl Luke had given a ride to the night before. Sally believes Luke when he says he didn't do it, but she can tell he's hiding something and is terribly worried about him. Rob, on the other hand, is strangely unsupportive, and for the first time in their lives together isn't the dependable rock she's used to.
DCI Channon's investigative style - quiet, undramatic and cerebral, is not to his abrasive Sergeant's taste - Bowles would rather his new boss confront the motorcycle riding teen instead of this softly softly business Channon goes in for. But Channon suspects there's more going on than first appears, and his investigation uncovers a number of secrets in the small coastal village.
No Corners for the Devil, an expression that comes from the round houses typical of that area of England, is the first in a series about a really engaging, compassionate detective. Channon's family died before the novel opens, which adds a layer of compassionate care to his character. There's something soothing about the atmosphere and writing despite the content, and Etchells' writing is subtle and underscores the plot rather than dominating it. Between the setting and the secrets I was frequently reminded of the film Hot Fuzz, though there's a dearth of guns, car chases and straight men. I love that film, and I really enjoyed this novel - I intend continuing with the rest of the series. - Alex

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