Monday, 24 December 2007

Christmas approaches...

…and I’ve started reading a chunky crime novel whose action begins in earnest on Christmas Eve. This is Water Like a Stone by Deborah Crombie. One of the other attractions of the book is that it is set in my native Cheshire, around Nantwich, one of the county’s salt towns (I spent my formative years in Northwich, a few miles away.) Despite the enduring popularity of Cranford, Cheshire has not often been used as a backdrop for works of crime fiction (children’s fiction is a different matter, thanks to Alan Garner), though as I mentioned recently, I've just set a Dickensian short story in Knutsford.

It is particularly interesting to see what an American author from Texas makes of an area which is, I think, quintessentially English. Impressions from the first 100 pages are very positive; Crombie has done her research well and has got a real feel for the boating community who spend so much time on the county's various canals. I’ve read and admired several of her books in the past, and applaud her skill at depicting people and places. Her detectives, Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, are likeable, three-dimensional individuals, and in this story Kincaid returns to his Cheshire roots, to be confronted by the discovery of the mummified remains of an infant. This has echoes of an extraordinary real-life mystery (in Cumbria, not Cheshire) from a year or two back; whether this was the inspiration for Crombie’s book, I don’t know, but it will be fascinating to read on and find out..

But for now, it’s on with the festivities. A very merry Christmas to everyone who reads this blog – and thanks for all the feedback. Much appreciated.

1 comment:

Maxine Clarke said...

The Cumbrian case sounds as if it was also an inspiration for Val McDermid's "The Grave Tattoo", in which a mummified body might or might not have been Fletcher Christian. (I reviewed that one for the Philadelphia Inquirer).

I look forward to reading more about your views on this Deborah Crombie. I very much enjoyed the first few of her books in this series, but felt they have gone off a bit in recent outings. The one set in the Scottish highlands was quite weak and unrealistic, I felt it had more in common with a 1950s American view of distilliaries and Highland life than the present day?