Etchells, Olive - 'No Corners for the Devil'
NO CORNERS FOR THE DEVIL appears to be Olive Etchell's first foray into crime writing and on the strength of this outing, I hope she continues with it.
The title comes from the phrase, 'no corners for the devil in a round house' and a roundhouse is exactly what the Baxter family live in, on the Cornish coast close to Truro. Sally and Rob Baxter and their three children have moved south from city life in Manchester to the quiet and rural village of Curdower. Having been there a few months, it's time for the holiday season to begin and the letting out of the four small houses they bought along with their unusual home. On the day of the first arrivals, the Baxter's younger son Ben, a gentle and shy eleven-year-old, together with his friend Malachi discover a body on the beach below. Death was not by natural causes. Ben naturally enough is shocked and upset but Sally can't understand her husbandís attitude, as he becomes distant and unsupportive of his son. When the body is revealed to be a local teenager and that their elder son Luke was the last person known to have seen her alive, Sally is left to cope alone, helping Luke through police questioning and near arrest.
Fortunately for Sally, the man in charge of the investigation is DCI Channon, a calm, thoughtful man who finds himself drawn to Sally and does his best not to cause her unnecessary pain. His sidekick is Sergeant Bowles, the antithesis of Channon, impatient and aggressive with a chip on his shoulder about well off children. He tries his hardest to blame the murder on Luke. However there are several other suspects, but the lack of forensic evidence makes it difficult to identify the perpetrator and then one suspect is himself murdered. It's Channon, noted for his intuition who finally sees a possible motive and thus the probable killer.
I do hope NO CORNERS FOR THE DEVIL is the first in a series as I'd like to see more of DCI Channon and his team and return to the village to see how the characters cope with their lives after the impact of two murders. It's tightly plotted with no loose ends and the pace keeps up with suspects slowly revealing titbits which further the investigation. As indicated, the main characters are realistic and ones that you care about.
I only have a couple of minor niggles: a Government department was incorrectly named as it was taken over a couple of years ago by another department, and secondly, the phrase 'and so forth' was used by a lot of the characters and as it's one I rarely come across in real life I found it distracting.
Karen Meek, England