Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hard Going: Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

I have been reading this police procedural series by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, featuring DI Bill Slider of the Metropolitan Police, Shepherd’s Bush, West London, for many years. Not sure when I discovered it but at the time several were already published and I read them all very quickly.

Recently I was given the opportunity to review this book by Severn House via NetGalley. Even though I was only up to the 12th book in the series, and this is the 16th, I decided to break my rules and take a chance and read the most recent book in the series. I am glad I did.

I like all kinds of police procedural series. I like them traditional, with less violence. I like them gritty with cops with more behavioral or psychological problems. And in between. I see this series as a traditional, cozyish series. There is a strong focus on the lives of the two major characters (Slider and his partner Atherton) in addition to the investigation of the crime; that makes it feel more realistic.

A concise summary of this book in a brief piece on "The British Police Procedural" at the publisher's site:
Harrod-Eagles' sixteenth book in the Bill Slider series, Hard Going, has her detective inspector trying to juggle his personal life while he and his team must investigate the brutal killing of an elderly solicitor who seemingly had no enemies.
In this case, the police can find very little information about the victim. He has many friends and acquaintances in his neighborhood, and he is known for helping out hard-luck cases, but his friends can provide no background on him. No next of kin. Slider and his team must work hard to find where he came from. I think I must especially enjoy the situation where a person's identity is in question, because I just read Henrietta Who? by Catherine Aird and enjoyed that story as well. (See that review here.)

Like many long running series, this one has its ups and downs, but I have found it a series worth sticking with. The characters are likable. I find that the policemen are very well-defined characters, the other persons involved in the crime less so. These books tell the story of the day by day investigation, looking for leads and connections, searching hours of CCTV tapes to trace the activities of the suspects.The series is known for its wit and humor, but this one seemed less humorous to me. Which was fine.

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles was born in Shepherd's Bush in London, which  is the setting of the Bill Slider series. At her website, you can find a brief history of Shepherd's Bush and a lovely map. She is the author of over 70 novels, including the MORLAND DYNASTY series which extended to 35 books.

16 comments:

  1. I live quite near Shepherd's Bush now in fact so I have to pick these up - thanks TracyK.

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    1. Sergio, how cool. I was very excited when I saw a sign pointing to Shepherd's Bush in a movie we watched recently (Wild Target). You definitely should give these a try. The first ones are marvelous.

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  2. Tracy, I like to read about police procedurals with less violence too, especially after a particularly violent crime, and Bill Slider seems like a likeable detective as well. But over 70 novels by an author I haven't read? That hurts.

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    1. Prashant, Bill Slider and all of his crew are very likable. Only 16 of the books are crime fiction. Although I am sure the other novels are also very good.

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  3. You know I picked one of these up at a library book sale several years ago. Having never heard of her this book just kept getting pushed to the back. Will have to rectify that. If I got rid of my computer I could get so many more books read!

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    1. Peggy, I think you would like this series. Hope you find the book and give a try.

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  4. Tracy - Ooh, a new series for me to try! I like police procedurals myself, and it can be so refreshing to find one that isn't overly violent. Thank you for the recommendation.

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    1. This is a good series, Margot. I hope you do try it.

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  5. Sounds interesting, but I need to read some of what I already have.

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    1. I do understand, Col. Even though I am only reading from my TBR piles, I bought too many new books in January. I have to do better in February.

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  6. I also have a very hard time not reading series in order, although I might do it to get the newest book on netgalley. Almost everything I read from netgalley is from a new-to-me author, so it's super exciting when you're able to get a book you've really been looking forward to :)

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    1. Katie, this was an experiment and it went OK. Of course I know all the characters by now, and their lives are much more settled than in the earlier books.

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  7. I read the first one years and years ago, and I keep meaning to go back, read it again, and continue on with the series.

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    1. Nan, the early ones in the series are the best. I loved the first one.

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  8. Tracy, I thought I'd red a couple of this series, but my records show just one, called Blood Lines, and I can't remember anything about it. You do make it sound like a series worth looking at again, though most unfairly I find the '70 books' figure highly off-putting...

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    1. Moira, I think only the 16 Bill Slider books are mysteries. Most of the rest (maybe all) are historical fiction and some sound very attractive but I too am daunted by the huge list.

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