Sunday, 1 September 2013

Book review: The Detective's Daughter by Lesley Thompson

I recently spent a lovely week in the lakes with Adam and our kindles, as due to wedding saving taking over our bank account at the moment we couldn't really justify a trip abroad.  Being too tight to pay full price for new books and hating to read what everyone else is reading, it's rare I ever read much from the book charts. Bizarrely The Detective's Daughter  was No1 in the kindle best sellers but I'd never heard a peep about it, and it was reduced to £0.59, so I bucked my normal trend for obscure books and decided to go with it.

Kate Rokesmith's decision to go to the river changed the lives of many. Her murder shocked the nation. Her husband never pressed charges and moved abroad under a cloud of suspicion. Her son, just four years old, grew up in a loveless boarding school. And Detective Inspector Darnell, vowing to leave no stone unturned in the search for her killer, began to lose his only daughter. The young Stella Darnell grew to resent the dead Kate Rokesmith for capturing her father's attention in a way she never could.
Thirty years later, Stella is dutifully sorting through her father's attic after his sudden death. The Rokesmith case papers are in a corner gathering dust: the case was never solved. Stella knows she should destroy them. Instead, she opens the box, and starts to read...

An unlikely concept perhaps - data protection, anyone?! The chapters flit back and forth between the 1980s and 2011 which is confusing at first, but you become so wrapped up in the story it becomes less of a problem. I'm not one for arty farty books. And this began suspiciously like one. Lots of vaguely written chapters that seemed to be hinting at something I just wasn't picking up on - like a magnifying glass zoomed in so much that the subject is a blur! Frustrating. The book has an eeriness though that made me want to continue even though I felt like the only person not in on the joke. It's written in such a way that builds tension from the first chapter, to a point where it's almost unbearable at times.

This book really gave me the heebiejeebies and I got to the point where I couldn't read it once Adam fell asleep at night as it was way too tense. What he was going to do to protect me from fictional baddies I don't know but the presence of a normal person in a world full of murder and mystery was somehow reassuring.

As the book built towards its finale I did start to predict the ending but there were enough surprises to keep me interested. I genuinely feared for the main character as she continued on her (not so) merry way determined to solve the murder that had flummoxed her detective father for so long, but I still didn't like her. She's just a bit of a cold fish and I generally need to find at least one character in a story who I can at least partially idenfity with in order to enjoy it fully, and I think this was part of the problem with this book - I just didn't like or understand any of the characters.
I could have done entirely without the memories flashbacks of Stella and her dad, too; I felt it added nothing to the story and was really quite distracting from the main plot.

Overall I the book was a little far-fetched to be plausible - it just couldn't have happened in real life, surely?!The book probably sits somewhere between psychological thiller and detective novel, but doesn't do either especially well.  I don't think i'd recommend The Detective's Daughter - I did quite enjoy it but there are elements that I found frustrsting and everyone hates to be frustrated by a book!
I'd certainly have a look at other books by Lesley Thomson as although not my usual genre, in a perverse way I did relish feeling thoroughly uncomfortable for the whole book.

Have you read this book yet? Or do you have any similar recommendations? 


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