Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Review of "Talking to the Dead" [82]

Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham 
Delacorte Press, ISBN 978-0345533739
September 25, 2012, 372 pages.

Fiona "Fi" Griffiths, a new detective with the Cardiff, Wales police department, is a bit of an enigma to her colleagues. She has a philosophy degree from Cambridge, a bit unusual for your average cop. She doesn't drink, not even coffee and is often oddly detached in her emotions. Then there are the missing two years in her resume, when everyone knows something happened to her, but no one can find out what it is.

But no one can question that she is a good, if sometimes out of the box cop, very smart and intuitive and a bit ambitious. At least ambitious to follow the cases as she, rather than her superiors, see then, something that does not make her their favorite young detective. So she is upset that with a huge new case breaking, she is tied to doing research on another case that is about to come to trial. Her assigned work is researching the money trail of a man that embezzled a great deal of money from the local school board, but she is trying as hard as she can to get into the new investigation.

The new case involves a woman, a prostitute, and her young child that were found dead, murdered, in a particularly horrible and brutal way. A dead prostitute is not that unusual, especially when at first they think is is just another drug overdose, but the obvious murder of the child takes it a while different way. And then there is the credit card found in the hovel the bodies are found in, a place they find the dead woman was hiding out in, the credit card of a millionaire that was supposedly killed in a private plane crash a few months ago. A millionaire who, it seems, is tied to the man who Fi is investigating. Fi can not get over the connection she feels to the case, especially to the little dead girl, a connection that becomes, especially to us the readers who see what is going on in Fi's mind, more than just a bit disturbing.

The plot of this story, the mystery that Fi and the police gradually unravel, is quite interesting and with just that, it would be a pretty good book. There are lots of different threads, from a bunch of seeming different cases. But as we watch, it all get tied together and ends with a really great, thrilling conclusion, (at a lighthouse!!) Fi at the very center of pulling it all together. But what puts it over the top is the character of Fi and trying to figure out what is going on with her.

Yes, her co-workers know she rarely socializes with them and never drinks. They know about those missing two years. But they have no idea about is that she can only sleep a few hours a night and spends many evenings and early mornings sitting on her back patio smoking pot and tending her pot plants in her wee greenhouse. We will let you read on your own about her, shall be say, odd view of the dead. They don't know that she has been studying martial arts since college as a way to try and control herself and her environment, something that is a real issue for her. And they have no idea..or so she thinks..about her budding romance with a fellow cop, who is going to have to be an extra understanding fellow to have Fi as a girlfriend.

Fi has demons...and she does what she must to keep them as bay. But happily that also helps to make her a great cop, very in tune with the suffering of the victims. You will be trying to figure out the crime, but I am sure you will also be trying to figure out what is going on with Fi as well, a mystery that is much clearer by the end of the book but still interesting enough to keep you looking forward to future books in this new series.

Highly recommended!

My thanks to Amazon Vine and the published for providing a review copy of this book.


  1. Fi sounds like a great character - aren't the best cops "out of the box?"

  2. i love books with 'seemingly unconnected' threads that weave together to become the solution .. very much the way Kate Atkinson writes

  3. Oooh, this sounds good! And lighthouse? You said lighthouse?

    1. Yes! The big ending happens at aa abandoned lighthouse...I was thrilled!

  4. So glad you got your lighthouse fix in this one!


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