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The Winter Visitor by James Henry - Review

Thursday, December 28, 2023

I was contacted by a lovely person at Quercus Books who offered this book to me to review as they thought it would be up my street. They were right! I was provided with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes but was not otherwise compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

So a man called Bruce Hopkins reappears in Essex after several years in exile in Spain, due to his part in an armed robbery. He has received a letter from his ex wife, Chloe, and he wants to see her. He visits her mum, first, who lives in this fancy mansion type of place. It's all a bit confusing and then Bruce is found dead in the boot of a stolen car that has been pushed into a reservoir. The police quickly find out that a man called Roland nicked the car for money; he was told exactly where to steal the car from at an out of the way motel, but has no idea who by. He's very recently out of prison and living with his sister Mandy. 

Also, one of the police duo who star in the book, Kenton, was bird watching when he saw a fire across the estuary and set off to it. It turns out a church roof has gone up in flames, deliberately set fire to. The vicar, Soames, immediately puts pressure on the police to solve his terrible crime. It doesn't seem like these two things are linked but then it becomes obvious they are and that they are linked to a boys school, and a pupil there in the distant past. There are parts with Roland's sister and with Bruce's ex, which become clear at the end, but they are a bit confusing in the middle. 

The book is set in 1991 which is so longer ago now that it felt like ancient history. Policing seems so  different now! The technology has come a really long way in that time, I think. There were a couple of anachronisms in my opinion but nothing too jarring. I really liked the detectives, Kenton and Brazier, and I would definitely read another book about them. I liked the WPC too, and treatment of her felt very real for the time period. 

If I have to give some criticisms it's that there are really a lot of characters in this book and it was quite hard to keep them all straight in my head which is probably why it took me so long to read. I also thought there were some parts that stretched the boundaries of coincidence just a bit too much for me. In all I'm giving this four out of five and thank you to Quercus Books for letting me read it!

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