“Meet Tara Thorpe – she’s Cambridge Police’s newest recruit… but her dark past is never far behind her.
When a body is pulled from the dank and dangerous fens on the outskirts of town, everybody assumes it was a tragic accident. But Detective Tara Thorpe, newly joined and determined to prove herself, suspects there’s more to the story.
Tara is desperate to investigate further, but her supervisor Patrick Wilkins has other ideas. He would rather die than let this ambitious upstart show him up – even if it means some digging in Tara’s secret past to keep her under his thumb. After all, it’s not like he can report her – everyone knows that his boss Detective Garstin Blake and Tara have a history…
When another body is found, it becomes clear that there’s a killer on the loose. Could the murders be linked to the secrets that Tara has been keeping from her team… and can she solve the case before another innocent dies?”
Given how much I loved Clare’s first book featuring Tara Thorpe, Murder on the Marshes (read my review of that book here), I am thrilled to be taking part today in the blog tour for the next in the series, Death on the River. My huge thanks to Noelle Holten, of publishers Bookouture, for inviting me on to the tour and for my copy of the book via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly.
I just want to pass comment and give my congratulations on another stonking cover which really evokes the spirit of the Cambridgeshire fens and the setting of the book. People say, you should never judge a book by its cover, but I am afraid I often do and this is another one I would love to have on my shelves. I love Bookouture books, they always feel lovely and solid in your hand – you know you are holding a piece of quality, nothing something flimsy. Mad, I know, but these things matter to a book lover!
Although this is the second book in the Tara Thorpe series, it could easily be read as a standalone without losing anything of the plot. Clare gives you enough of the back story for you to understand what you need to without it feeling like an information dump. However, I would highly recommend you read the first book to get deeper background on the characters and also because it is just so damn good, you will be missing out if you don’t!
The second book starts four years after the end of the first. In the interim, Tara has left her journalism career behind and has retrained as a police officer, newly joining the CID unit who investigated the crimes in book one, which brings her back into the orbit of DI Blake and other characters from the first book. I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed to hear that Tara was no longer a journalist, as I thought that brought a unique perspective to the investigation in book one. However, I need not have worried as Tara has brought all her journalistic skills to her new role in the police and this gives rise to an interesting aspect of the book where her old skills both compliment and clash with her new job. Her insatiable curiosity and dogged determination to get to the bottom of events being both help and a hindrance.
There are so many different aspects of this book that I really enjoyed, the criminal investigation being only one of them. The mystery is very well-crafted from the dramatic opening scene to the eventual denouement, it is sufficiently tricky to keep the reader guessing and hold our attention throughout. The pace of the story is not frantic but even and compelling and I was totally engrossed in the investigation, even though the first victim is not a particularly likeable character. There were lots of interesting details to the crime – I was left wondering where the author gets her ideas from!
An equally riveting aspect of the book was the relationships between Tara and her fellow officers, particularly Blake and Wilkins. Anyone who has read the first book will recall that it appeared there was a possible relationship developing between Tara and DI Blake, and I was pleased to note that vestiges of this had carried through to this book, leaving a residual tension between the two. The author cleverly uses this as a plot device to influence the professional relationship between the two, as we wonder whether Blake’s decisions to back Tara are due to his professional respect for her, or his personal feelings. I love the fact that there is an open will they, won’t they question left hanging.
Wilkins is a different kettle of fish altogether and the man becomes more and more unpleasant as the book progresses. His dislike and, possible jealousy and resentment towards Tara grows and grows to the point where it is impacting on his objectivity and decision-making and he is in danger of putting his own career at risk. It is always good to have a character you love to hate in a book!
The book is written largely from Tara’s perspective and, as a protagonist, she continues to grow on me as she remains independent, determined and feisty and true to her own values, no matter what is thrown at her. I love a strong, female role model in a book, and this one certainly knows who she is and what she stands for.
The final thing which really makes this book stand out in the genre for me is the setting. It is as much a character in the book as any of the people and plays a big part in the stories. The plot simply would not work as well anywhere else and, just as in book one, the suppressing, empty isolation and loneliness of the Fens adds so much to the atmosphere of the story, and is brilliantly and vividly brought to life by the writing.
For some reason, this series has really grabbed me and I really look forward to reading more. Another paperback is on its way to add to the shelf for repeat enjoyment.
Death on the River is out now and you can buy your copy here.
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About the Author
Clare Chase writes mysteries set in her home city of Cambridge and is fascinated by the location’s contrasts and contradictions. She’s worked in diverse settings – from the 800-year-old University to one of the local prisons – and lived everywhere from the house of a Lord to a slug-infested flat. The terrace she now occupies presents a good happy medium.
As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books. She lives with her husband and teenage children, and currently works at the Royal Society of Chemistry.
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