It’s my stop on the blog tour today and I am delighted to share with you my review of this highly entertaining read.
Thank you to the publishers Salt Publishing and to Emma Dowson for my copy of the book and a place on the tour.
Chasing Hares is out now and available to purchase direct from Salt Publishing and other book sellers.
Chasing Hares is the 8th book in the DI Yates series and although I haven’t read any of the others I was still able to get drawn straight into this highly entertaining read.
Gordon Bemrose, a shady local businessman who lives in a large house on an island in the River Welland, decides he can make easy money from the property by using it for Country House murder weekends. For the first, introductory, weekend he recruits ten people from very different backgrounds: Ava and Reggie Dack and Lizzie and Jackson Fox, two self-made couples from Essex; Sonia and Richard Renwick, respectively a successful beautician and her husband, who is a failed writer; Dora Westerman, a lady of indeterminate age and obviously very slender means; Amelia Baker, an English literature student; and Margarett and Colin Franklin, a mixed-race couple of modest origins whom all the others look down upon. Reluctantly assisting with the festivities are Patti Gardner, Gordon’s niece, who has been roped in to speak about the work of a SOCO, and Anton Greenweal, his nephew, who has achieved instant fame on a TV reality show and will be the lead actor in a short play to be performed during the weekend. The play is central to Gordon s plans: he intends it to be based on a popular farce, but with a macabre twist as its finale.
Events take an unexpected turn when a real murder takes place; and DI Yates, investigating, discovers that each of the guests had an ulterior motive for participating in the crime weekend. Everyone on the island becomes a suspect, including Patti, his former girlfriend. Meanwhile, an epidemic of hare coursing is sweeping the county. This illegal and cruel sport is pursued by cynical gamblers who bet high stakes on whose dog will catch the hare. On her way back to Spalding police station from a meeting in Bourne, DS Juliet Armstrong discovers a badly-wounded Saluki that has been abandoned by hare coursers and is determined to bring them to justice.
The eighth DI Yates novel is a modern take on the country house murder story; it also explores the crime of hare coursing, which is currently top of the agenda for police forces in Lincolnshire.
When I first saw a brief outline of this book I couldn’t wait to read it. Country house murder weekend plus police procedural set in the present day! What a great mix! I couldn’t wait to find out how the author had tackled this. Wonderfully it turned out!!
We are first introduced to DS Juliet Armstrong. A young detective attending to a call regarding a possible sighting of hare coursing, a crime that seems to be causing a lot of trouble in the local area. We learn very early on that she has previously been involved in a case of a notorious female serial killer and is still receiving treatment to an injury she had sustained from this investigation. Some colleges are naturally protective of her, however Juliet can’t stand to be ‘looked after’ and just wants to get on with her job. As I’ve mentioned, this is the 8th book in the series but it didn’t stop me being able to read this as a standalone novel or indeed my first taste of this series as a whole.
The large majority of the book is set in Holyrood House, a large house set on an island in the River Welland and the author does a fabulous job of setting the scene and vividly describing the house and its grounds. Throw in the mist, fog and cold evenings of a November night and you have an atmospheric and evocative setting for some seriously weird goings on!
At first I struggled to keep tabs on who was who as the many guests and members of staff staying at the house for the weekend were all introduced at once, but I soon established who was who with the physical descriptions given of the individual characters and began to picture them all in my mind. A mixed bunch they seem an unlikely mix for a murder mystery weekend!
I don’t want to write a review that includes most of what happens as that would spoil the book for you but I will tell you why I liked this novel. First of all I loved the idea of a country house mystery set in the modern day. The author really managed to set the feel of a remote country estate but without you forgetting it was set close to town and in current times. I think the way she used the characters personalities, tone of voice and appearances really helped in this. The two story lines are written quiet differently yet finally come together towards the end of the book.
The characters and events at the mystery weekend are so entertaining. Guests and staff are quirky, pompous, rude and miserable but so much fun, and the events that take place just on the first night would have most people fleeing for the door, but no, not this lot, they just open another bottle of wine!! Accidents, mysterious noises and the hosts insistence of continuing with the weekend only add to the sense that you know there is more behind this gathering than at first seems. I enjoyed the character of Juliet and got the impression that there would be a lot more to learn about her so am planning to read other books in the series.
I seem to have read a number of books lately set in this eastern part of England. (East Anglia and The Fens) and have to say they have all had a marvellous mystical, remote sometimes even other worldly feel about them. A great setting for this charming yet up to date murder mystery.