Etchells, Olive - 'Footprints of the Devil'
Family saga writer, Olive Etchells burst onto the crime scene last year (2005) with the well received NO CORNERS FOR THE DEVIL which introduced the Cornish team of DCI Channon and Sergeant Bowles. The follow-up, FOOTPRINTS OF THE DEVIL, is even better.
Dave Treganza left his home on the Lizard seven years ago and hasn't been back, until his sixth sense tells him to get home immediately. Flying to England from his surfing job in Hawaii he doesn't go straight home to his family in Porthmenna as he's uncertain of his reception. He ran off after a row with his guardian, his aunt, and also the loss of the woman he loved to his elder brother Jonathan.
When he finally shows himself he discovers his brother has been missing for several days after visiting a nearby mansion about some carpentry work. Two bodies are found in quick succession and one of them is Jonathan. Because of the crime scenes' proximity to the satellite station at Goonhilly Downs, DCI Channon who has special responsibility for suspicious deaths near potential terrorist sites, becomes involved in solving both murders. The police struggle as there are no motives for either killing and a third murder just complicates things even more. Only a voice from the dead, in the shape of a letter, points the way to the solution.
FOOTPRINTS OF THE DEVIL is an excellent and complicated whodunit with the identity of the guilty party changing as new evidence is discovered. It also has the benefit of the gorgeous Cornish setting. On top of that the characterisation is superb with the author really making you feel that you know the Treganzas and the villagers and this invokes a real feeling of sympathy for the beleaguered family. Channon is as likeable as before and his cool, ambitious sergeant is beginning to learn from his superior. No continuation of the romance for Channon from NO CORNERS FOR THE DEVIL but perhaps he'll find someone in the next book, which I eagerly await.
Karen Meek, England
Karen blogs at Euro Crime.