Reviews by L. J. Roberts

CYNTHIA HARROLD-EAGLES – Dying Fall. DCI Bill Slider #23. Severn House, hardcover, February 2022.

First Sentence: ‘I thought after all this time I’d know everywhere in Shepherd’s Bush,’ said Slider.

   An anonymous call leads the police to a house where a woman lays dead at the bottom of the stairs. First glance indicates a suicide. Police Constable (PC) D’Arblay disagrees, and Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Bill Slider agrees. Without an initial identity of the victim, witnesses, or motive, it’s a hard case for the Shephard’s Bush homicide team to solve. The more they learn, the more complex the case becomes and the harder it is to prove.

   From the first chapter heading, one is treated to Harrod-Eagles’ skill with words. Her unique descriptions— “Shepherd’s Bush Green was littered with sun worshippers, the men stripped to the waist – the glare off their blue-white bodies could have brought a plane down.” —and her humor. The description of characters is unique yet brings a visual image immediately to mind. Phrases such as– “Atherton moved like a cat, except that he did not spray the furniture as he passed.” —make her writing is such a pleasure to read. And who but Bill Slider would quote Tennyson at a murder scene.

   Bill Slider’s family is an element in the series. Their involvement is realistic without overshadowing the plot. Slider’s wife, Joanna, is in a position common to many women, a mother with her own career. The family adds dimension to Slider and contrast to his second in command, confirmed bachelor and ladies’ man, Detective Sergeant Inspector  Atherton.

   One of the best things about the book is that it is a true mystery with an ensemble cast. Each member of Slider’s team is fully developed and plays an important role. Also appreciated is the loyalty Slider’s boss, Detective Superintendent shows for his men.

   The case is unusual and interesting. Clues are tracked down from learning the victim’s identity, piecing together her associates, bit-by-bit learning the motive, eliminating suspect, and to finally identifying the killer. A young man plays a significant role in the plot line and Slider’s interactions with him are both sensitive and extremely well done. There are excellent twists when the team uncovers a second, and possibly a third death, which were also thought to be suicides. This forces the team to go back and investigate the past.

   Dying Fall is a first-rate police procedural/mystery based on a murder and what is needed to solve the crime. There are no car chases or gun fights, just a hard, nose-down investigation with twists, humor, and an excellent cast of characters.

Rating: VG Plus.