Last Lullaby by Carol Wyer

The tag line to Carol Wyer’s “Last Lullaby” reads “Charlotte’s baby is safe. But is she?” I’ll give you a hint, she’s not. She’s dead. Beaten to death with a baseball bat. Wyer’s book takes place in the suburbs of Manchester, England–as best as I could tell–so my question is this, why does someone have a baseball bat in England? This isn’t the first time I’ve encounter baseball bats in an UK mystery. Turns out baseball bats ARE a thing in the UK. Weird.

So Charlotte is dead and Detective Natalie Ward is on the scene. Not only does Ward have to deal with multiple suspects which gives this police procedural a sort-of-old English mystery feel, her spouse is not happy with her hours. I gave this tired trope of the disgruntled spouse a pass and read on because Wyer is damn good at telling a story. Everything is tightly organized and the suspects come at Ward and her squad at rapid fire pace. The book usually follows Ward during the investigation and sometimes jumps to other squad members. Somewhere in Chapter Nine, Wyer plugs in a paragraph of 53 words of a suspect’s point of view and then back the police’s point of view. Took me right out of the damn story. But I got back in, because again Wyer’s a good story teller.*

And then half-way through the book, Wyer jumps to the point of view of an unnamed killer. “Last Lullaby” alternates chapter by chapter between the police and the killer.

I went into this police procedural expecting be bored at a typically unrealistic police detective book and that was not the case. Oh, it wasn’t realistic, but Wyer has a good mystery at the heart of HER police procedural and then morphs into something a bit different. Even though I wasn’t a fan of the killer’s point of view, Wyer kept my interest till the end.


*The book’s first chapter was during Charlotte and her husband’s angry drive home.


Broken Bones by Angela Marsons

broken-bones-by-angela-marsonsAngela Marson’s Broken Bones begins on Christmas day with a teenage girl being pushed off a building. A few days later, D.I. Kim Stone, after a 14-hour shift, finds a baby outside the police station a night in the freezing cold. Actually we don’t know she found a baby in Chapter 1, what we do know is this:

‘No bloody way,’ she whispered, taking two steps forward. ‘Oh shit,’ she said, as she stepped into the light.

The baby reveal isn’t until Chapter 3. Since Stone found the baby late a night, she has to keep custody of the baby till social services arrives. And, get this, she has no idea what to do with a baby. And, get this, she calls in her team to help her take care of the baby. Okay, all of this might be funnier if I had read the first six installments of the Kim Stone series, but reading these first few chapters, I was a bit disappointed with such blatant and bad use of can’t-take-care-of-a-baby trope. And just imagine how pissed you’d be if your boss called you back into to the office to help with a baby. Her team, however, was not.

The folks over at TV Tropes define tropes as such, “A trope is a storytelling device or convention, a shortcut for describing situations the storyteller can reasonably assume the audience will recognize.” They go on to say, “They may be brand new but seem trite and hackneyed; they may be thousands of years old but seem fresh and new. They are not bad, they are not good…” This is the rub; every writer uses tropes, but it is the good stories that the tropes disappear unnoticed by the reader. The bad stories, not so much. Broken Bones is filled with tropes – a teenage runaway, a risk-taking police detective, a gruff boss that gives his cop leeway, etc. – all of them sticking out like a teenager’s blemish.

Almost every chapter in Broken Bones wrapped up with a dramatic ending such as “And there was something she still hadn’t told her team” or “His gaze followed her as she tottered away, his face full of murderous thunder”. It got so bad that at the end of every chapter, I would hum “dun dun dun” out loud.

Angela Marsons is quite a popular crime fiction author. At the time of this writing, Broken Bones is 18th on Amazon’s Noir ebook best seller list while books that are much better such as Marietta Miles’ May and Matt Phillips’ Accidental Outlaws are #1017 and #1233 on that same list. Basically all of my complaints about Broken Bones are what makes this book a bestseller. Obviously, I’m just faking it here.

The dun-dun-dun music clip is licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0). You can find it here at Orange Free Sounds.

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