Spencer, Sally - 'Sins of the Fathers'
SINS OF THE FATHERS by Sally Spencer is the sixteenth in the Chief Inspector Woodend series set in sixties Lancashire in the fictional mill-town of Whitebridge. In this police procedural, Chief Inspector Woodend and his team investigate the death of local political conservative candidate, and member of the town's elite, Bradley Pine, who is found mutilated in a layby. Three years before his death, Bradley Pine went on an ill-fated mountaineering expedition which resulted in his business partner's death due to exposure. Despite considerable resistance from his police superior, who himself harbours political aspirations, Woodend and his team investigate Bradley Pine's background thoroughly to try and find his murderer. Their investigation is complicated by what appears to be a high-level cover up of the events that took place during the lethal climbing expedition.
Sally Spencer convincingly depicts the social divides in the old mill-town, with a huge gulf between the golf and country club members living in the upper part of the town, and the dwellers of the grim mill cottages at Greenfields, though there does seem to be more of a sense of location, than of period in this book. In particular, the desire of the Chief Inspector "to get inside the head of the murderer" feels to be several decades ahead of its time. This slight quibble aside, Sally Spencer characterises both the police team and the civilians with a good eye for detail. Chief Inspector Woodend is a likeable bluff man with similar tendencies to maverick brilliance, unhealthy habits and profanities as his Yorkshire counterpart, Reginald Hill's Andy Dalziel. His junior oficers, Monika Paniatowski, Constable Beresford and Inspector Rutter, are each under a great deal of strain in their personal lives, with no neat resolutions coming with the end of this book, encouraging readers to follow future books in the series to find out how matters develop.
SINS OF THE FATHERS is a competently written and tightly plotted police procedural with a neat twist in the tale, which makes for a pleasant read.
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Laura Root, England