Book review: Dead in the Water by Ann Granger

Dead in the Water by Ann Granger
Dead in the Water by Ann Granger
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When a young woman’s body washes up in the swollen river of a quiet Cotswold village, members of a local writers’ club become the prime suspects in a murder hunt.

Think of ITV’s Midsomer Murders – but without the hammy horror and unfeasibly high body count – add a cast of seductively real characters and a large helping of super sleuthing, and you have the fourth Campbell and Carter murder mystery from one of the nation’s best-loved crime writers.

Ann Granger’s top police detective team have become must reading for crime fans seduced by her gift for exquisitely detailed characterisation and intelligent plotting, and her evocation of the captivating Cotswold landscape.

Christmas is drawing near and the village of Weston St Ambrose is facing its wettest winter on record. When the local river bursts its banks, vet Mike Lacey is horrified to see a young woman’s body floating downstream.

The body comes to rest under the jetty at Glebe House, the home of reclusive fantasy novel author Neil Stewart and his wife Beth. And it’s a double shock for Neil when he discovers that he recognises the victim.

Called in to investigate, Inspector Jess Campbell and Superintendent Ian Carter discover that the girl was Courtney Higson, the 19-year-old barmaid who had served drinks at a recent gathering of the Weston St Ambrose Writers’ Club at the Fishermen’s Rest pub.

All the club’s members seem to have known Courtney – some rather better than others – but surely one of them wasn’t capable of murdering her?

There is also the added complication of Courtney’s devastated father Teddy Higson. Carter sympathises with the man’s grief but Teddy is a local villain, released from prison on compassionate grounds, and Ian and Jess know that they must act quickly to find Courtney’s killer before Teddy, who ‘breaks legs for a living,’ takes the law into his own hands…

Dead in the Water sees Ann Granger at the top of her game as Campbell and Carter dig deep into the heart of a village’s dark secrets to solve a baffling murder.

Packed with unexpected twists and turns, and some beautifully observed tensions between the highly ambitious and competitive writing club members, this is a story to both intrigue and entertain.

(Headline, trade paperback, £13.99)