Ann Cleeves' Too Good to be True is an entry in the Quick Reads series. I read a couple of titles in the series when it was first established, but I've not seen the books - which are much shorter than conventional novels and also cheaply priced - around so much in recent times; perhaps I've not been looking in the right places. But this one was definitely worth tracking down, not least because it's an addition to the Jimmy Perez series. And it only costs a pound.
The driver behind Quick Reads is a sobering fact. One in six adults finds reading difficult, and many never pick up a book. This is a tragedy. When I, and I'm sure all readers of this blog, reflect on how much our lives gain from reading, the thought that many people feel deterred from sharing this pleasure is truly depressing. In this positive initiative, leading writers are commissioned to write stories that are, in effect, novellas, told without the use of vocabulary that might seem intimidating.
Apparently, in the last ten years, 4.5 million Quick Reads books have been distributed. An impressive figure by any standards. The books are available from libraries as well as retailers, and over three million library loans have been registered. This is a reminder of the value of our library system, and why closing libraries is a Bad Thing (I talked recently about the campaign to save Lymm Library - this is being pursued with vigour, though the outcome is impossible to foresee with any confidence).
Back to Ann's book. Intriguingly, she has Jimmy leave his Shetland base to respond to a cry for help from his ex-wife, who is now married to someone else. A local woman has committed suicide - but Jimmy soon becomes dissatisfied with the official view of the case, although his personal link with his ex complicates his investigation. Ann's crisp and concise style is very well suited to the Quick Reads concept, and I'm sure that this is the kind of story that will indeed encourage people who aren't natural readers to get into this most enjoyable of habits.