Sunday, July 11, 2010

BLOOD FROM A STONE by Frances Fyfield (2008)

In a piece called "Why Crime Fiction is Good for You," Ian Rankin names a few top flight writers (Ruth Rendell, P.D. James, Val McDermid, Michael Dibdin), including Frances Fyfield, whose books are not only committed to the general expectations of the genre, but also manage to peel away layers of social problems through character exposition and development just as the illustrious Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle did in the 19th century.

BLOOD FROM A STONE is the first Fyfield novel I've read and it won't be the last. At the outset, the wealthy and successful criminal barrister Marianne Shearer plummets to her death in her finery from the balcony of a chic boutique hotel in Kensington. Through a series of cryptic clues left behind by the deceased, fellow lawyers Thomas Nobel and Peter Friel discover uncomfortable truths about their client, including the dark reality that in her most recent gruesome case Shearer knowingly sacrificed an innocent witness to a let a criminal walk free. The question is why and the answer is mind-blowing.

Fyfield knows how to pace her plot and to reveal just enough about her characters to keep you flipping pages well into the night.

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