Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Secret Sins

I have a bad habit of starting to read a new book at a time when I have several other, perfectly enjoyable, books as yet unfinished. But often temptation is too great to resist.

So it is with the latest by Kate Charles, Secret Sins. It’s been a while since I’ve read one of Kate’s novels, although I much enjoyed a short story she wrote a while back. It was set in Liverpool and quite excellent, with an original Beatles-related angle. I was sorry when, for reasons outside my control, it didn’t finish up in the anthology I was editing at the time. It must be getting on for fifteen years since I first came across Kate’s work, through a book called A Drink of Deadly Wine. I’ve long been struck by her ability to capture the essence of English society – this is all the more impressive a gift, given that she is American by birth, although these days she resides in Ludlow.

The new book begins with an encounter at a Mothers’ Union meeting, and the central character, Callie Anson, is a curate, ‘nearly a priest’. So far, it’s an entertaining read, offering a welcome break from endless gruesome descriptions of forensic pathology. A reminder, if one were needed, that one of the strengths of the crime genre is its sheer range. Kate Charles’ books might be described by some as ‘cosy’, but she does not flinch from examining the dark side of human behaviour. If you haven’t encountered her work, it certainly deserves a look.

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