by Christina O'Reilly
Reviewer admission: I love detective fiction. Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, PD James, Ian Rankin, nothing beats a well written whodunnit. Into The Void is that. I read it in one sitting.
DSS Archie Baldrick is in his forties and feeling it. His two teenaged daughters cause him pride and trouble in equal measure and there’s a distancing in his marriage to Jenna which his workload really doesn’t give him time to investigate.
At work, he has a new DC to deal with, Ben Travers ‘…like a large Labrador puppy, all legs and feet…’ with the same hyper enthusiasm, too which doesn’t help Archie’s personal sense of encroaching middle age. They are called to investigate a missing person – banker Richard Harper who has disappeared leaving a wife struggling in her fight against cancer and a pregnant girlfriend. Has the man merely escaped from the confused entanglements of a suddenly difficult personal and professional life, or is something more sinister at play?
O’Reilly doesn’t mess about setting scenes or personalities. She throws the reader smack bang into the middle of Archie’s life and trusts you will pick up the essentials as you go and as she is a deft hand at characterisation and dialogue, this is easy.
I had two minor quibbles – one, if a character has startling blue eyes, I don’t need to be told every time we’re in her company and as there is always a great point made of this, it jarred. On pages 96/97 during the interview with Joanne, I felt the establishment of belief in her instability seemed too quickly and conclusively arrived at. No allowance was made for a person’s temperament in such a fraught situation which might lead many people to appear guilty when nerves and fear of the police might alter how they react under questioning. These are very minor issues which might not worry anyone else but they stood out for me in an otherwise well written detective fiction.
O’Reilly’s characters are all strong, believable people with equally believable domestic lives and troubles. It’s nicely flavoured with New Zealandness without feeing contrived and carries a story which would work in any international setting. Nice reveal, too.
I hope O’Reilly revisits Archie and his life and work. I’m keen for a series. Christina? Please?
Thanks to Christina for a solid, enjoyable read.
Author: Christina O'Reilly
Publisher: Christina O'Reilly
Available: Paperback: Paper Plus in Feilding and Palmerston North or from Writers Plot bookshop. Or from the author directly via firstname.lastname@example.org