Thursday, 11 June 2009

Dead Like Her

Linda Regan’s first novel, Behind You!, published by Crème de la Crime a couple of years back, struck me as an enjoyable debut. It introduced two likeable cops, Paul Banham and Alison Grainger, with a relationship developing between them, and made good use of the author’s experience as an actor. She has appeared in a wide range of roles and her husband is Brian Murphy is himself well-known for his acting, perhaps most famously as George Roper, originally in 'Man About the House' and later in 'George and Mildred'.

Some time afterwards, I got to meet Linda and Brian, and so it was good - and a relief! - to find that Passion Killers, Linda’s next novel, didn’t display the failings often associated with second books. Now she has published her third book about Banham and Grainger, Dead Like Her.

The story opens with a striking and memorable image – Marilyn Monroe lookalike Sadie Morgan falls victim to a brutal murderer. She works as a staff nurse at a hospital, but earns almost as much for three spots a week, impersonating Marilyn at a club called Doubles. Meanwhile, Banham and Grainger, both newly promoted, have begun an affair – but how long will it last?

The body count soon mounts, but the private lives of the investigating cops are of equal interest to the reader. Linda, who herself played Marilyn some years ago in a touring production, and the launch of the book was timed to coincide with the anniversary of Marilyn's birth. Linda writes with increasing assurance a modern equivalent of the books that used to appear under the imprint of Collins Crime Club, or in the distinctive yellow jackets of Gollancz. Those great brands, have, sadly, disappeared forever, but Crème de la Crime does a good job of identifying other modern authors of talent such as Maureen Carter and Adrian Magson. Long may they flourish.

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