When philanthropist Hugo Fletcher’s dead body is discovered tied to a bed in his London home, Chief Inspector Tom Douglas determines right away that he’s hunting a female killer. Though Fletcher made countless enemies through his work with Eastern European prostitutes, the crime scene reeks of sex and revenge. This murder was personal. Douglas knows Fletcher’s unhappy wife, Laura, should be his prime suspect. She’s definitely hiding something. Something big. But he isn’t convinced it’s murder. Besides, she’s not the only woman with a motive to kill the manipulative billionaire. So he digs deeper, into a tangled web of secrets and lies, unraveling the sordid life Fletcher lived outside of the media spotlight.
What he uncovers is shocking, forcing the veteran cop to ask himself: With a man like Fletcher, should the guilty be punished? Or should the innocent be protected?
©2013 Rachel Abbott (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
I like mysteries (particularly British ones, historical fiction and nonfiction, science fiction and fantasy.
I thought this book was supposed to be a police procedural based on the description and ended up disappointed. I should have read more of the Amazon reviews.
The set up is interesting. A wealthy philanthropist is found naked, tied to a bed with silk scarves, and dead. It is not unknown for this sort of thing to happen in London from time to time. The body is discovered by the cleaner who calls in the police and an investigation into the family, employees, and associates of the dead man begins.
I bought the Kindle version and the whispersynced Audible version. The narrator Sarah Coomes was above average, but I shortly gave up on listening to the Audible version so I could skim the long (and I thought uninteresting) letters that give the back story of Sir Hugo's marriage. The characters of the people investigating the murder start out interesting enough, but it all quickly takes on a soap opera quality.
Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas who is in charge of the investigation is having family problems of his own, but unlike many authors who work the family lives of their detectives into their books (Cynthia Harrod-Eagles for one), Abbott just has Douglas interrupting his interrogation of a suspect to answer phone calls from his ex-wife. Douglas' habit of having personal conversations on his phone in front of his Sergeant or telling one of his chief suspects about his issues with his ex-wife are unlikely and don't add to the story. The resolution of the ex-wife issue is perfunctory.
Also when one of the suspects was being questioned about accepting money under the table I kept waiting for someone to threaten the suspect with tax consequences, but it never happened.
I knew in a short period of time whodunnit. I also guessed fairly quickly why it was done. And the domestic issues of the characters weren't interesting enough to keep me absorbed as the rest of the story unrolled.
I was surprised at Sir Hugo having trouble finding partners who enjoyed his rather mild sexual fetishes. In fact, except for the bits revealed about his background here and there, I wondered what all the fuss was about. (Now the MI6 spy discovered naked zipped and padlocked in a North Face duffle bag in his bathtub had an interesting fetish--provided the London Metropolitan Police are correct, that he did it to himself.)
In short not a horrid book, but not to my taste either.
Tell the story
She reads like a teenager bemoaning a lost love. She even sighs at the chapter numbers!
I'd have a total rewrite
I just bought "Only the Innocent" by Rachel Abbot because I saw it advertised on Audible as a good mystery. I'm 10 chapters into it and cannot listen to the immature babbling of grown women bemoaning their lives and loves and... well they just babble. There is no mystery to care about. A man dies at the very beginning, and then two women cannot stop their sighing and immature love stories. I see it as either a book for immature teens (today's teens wouldn't talk to their girlfriends like the two main characters) or a cheap love novel with the picture of a pirate on the cover.
The narrator makes it even worse. For her, even the chapter numbers are part of a tragedy and deserve the sweet, sweet sighs she is so good at.
Don't be fooled by the advertising!
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
When the book started, I wasn't at all sure that I could stick with it . . . it was bizarre and gruesome . . . it began with a horrid murder in the most sick sex scene . . . books like that are not my cup of tea. PERIOD. But that is NOT the whole of this book . . . far from it . . . In fact, it's a story of a pretty normal young woman, a bit naive, who believes in love . . . and trusts the wrong man . . . but a man who goes to great lengths to appear very gentle and kind, to seem like everything that he ISN'T. It's a fascinating story, many layered, and at the center of is a little girl, growing up in an evil nest . . . Overall, the book is not full of gruesome details, but you know they exist . . . Eastern European prostitutes supposedly being "rescued" from a life of sin and despair, the power and manipulation of an evil, rich man over his wife and family . . . and a young woman, his wife, who secretly continues to fight for what is right . . . and hold on to a shred of decency . . . I listened and listened, with a bit of dread in my heart . . . how would this all end? But I was not disappointed . . . I couldn't see any good end for all this . . . I was totally surprised . . . the end was worth the wait . . .
I ignore genre labels. Some of my favorite books are outside my genre comfort zone. Listening to audiobooks is still reading. Not theater.
I really tried on this one. I made it almost 11 hours into this 15 hour book before I had to throw in the towel. I think there was the kernel of a good story somewhere in the mess, but it would take an awful lot of work to dig it out.
This is the first book in a series built around a Chief Inspector in Scotland Yard. The Inspector wasn't even a strong secondary character in the book. His sole role seemed to be to feel frustrated and impatient. I finally gave up when he was at his most frustrated while interviewing the assistant of the murder victim. It was painful and made absolutely no sense. To build a successful series around a single character, readers have to get to know the character, and like him. For a good series, the reader is willing to be patient and read each book in order, knowing that they will learn more about the continuing characters in each subsequent book. If someone wanted to start this series, I would tell them they could easily skip the first book and start with book two or three, and they wouldn't miss any critical information.
If a good editor got ahold of this book and pared it down to about 7 hours, I think it could be readable (although not with this narrator reading it) As it was, it dragged on so long and the details were so slowly revealed, it simply couldn't keep my interest.
The narration made the book even more difficult to read. I should have paid closer attention to who was narrating before I purchased. This is the second book narrated by Sarah Coomes I could not finish. I won't do that again. All of her voices were melodramatic and she should avoid reading male parts going forward. She sounded like a spooky ghost every time she spoke a man's lines.
All of that said, I would like to know how this ended, if only because I wasted so much time on it. But I don't want to know badly enough to finish the book or to even skip to the last chapter.
One e of those books where the twisted plot pays off. I will definitely be a repeat listener.
More than just a mystery, this book is a page-turner, with complex characters and believable clues. Now I want to read more by the same author. Some similarities with Stieg Larsson. Great performance by Sarah Coomes. Each character was recognizable and the accents believable.
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