"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Blood-Dimmed Tide

TITLE: The Blood-Dimmed Tide
AUTHOR: Rennie Airth

The second historical mystery featuring John Madden, now retired from Scotland Yard. The first, River of Darkness, took place in England in the years just after World War I. This book jumps to 1932. Madden is retired and living the life of a gentleman farmer with his doctor wife and their two children when a girl in the area goes missing. Joining the search for her, Madden is the one who discovers her brutalized body. Much as he knows his wife would prefer he leave detecting to the official authorities, he can't leave the investigation alone, but the book is told from multiple perspectives, including Madden's former Scotland Yard colleagues. The Whodunit is established fairly early on, a man well-trained in disguises, deceit, and losing himself who also possesses the urge to savage adolescent girls. The book is more than a mystery, being as much character studies and a look at the times as Europe faces troubling events occurring in Germany that could spill across those borders. Airth's writing is simple, yet elegant, and despite a penchant for telling his tale in what feels like forced flashbacks within each scene -- a chapter will start at point B, then quickly fill in info from point A -- that stylistic narrative choice didn't hinder my enjoyment. On to book three, The Dead of Winter!