by Alison Bruce
Review by Mel Jacob
Soho Constable Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781569475201
Date: 01 January 2009 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Detective Constable Gary Goodhew, as the newest member of the Cambridge Parkside Station detective squad, wants to prove himself to his superior and other team members. Impatient, inexperienced, and young, he finds the approach of some of his colleagues slow and unimaginative, especially when he is teamed with Michael Kincaide. Goodhew mines information in old case files and then exploits it, along with the Internet to ferret out perpetrators.
Concerned with justice and not letting the guilty escape, he passes anonymous tips to his superior, Detective Inspector Marks. The clues solve various cases, but their source worries Marks. He suspects Goodhew, but wants to nab criminals and see justice done. To solve crimes meticulous procedures must be followed, and he has no patience with mavericks. He values Goodhew's abilities, but believes he may have to move him to another department because of his unconventional methods and lack of teamwork.
Goodhew establishes rapport with people with ease and elicits information others miss. Kincaide by contrast prefers to bully witnesses and suspects. While he applies approved procedures, he misses important clues. Married, but unhappy with his wife, he romances an unknown woman.
Devoted to his work, Goodhew admires Mel, an administrative support person at Parkside and an after-hours sax player. She already has a boyfriend, so he watches from a distance, but learns he makes her uncomfortable. His one romantic relationship, satisfying and intense, ended when he and the girl finished college.
Goodhew follows up on Mark's instructions to get a statement from an elusive street person, but a tearful newsboy who discovered a corpse interrupts. The murder of the young woman found on a trash heap beside a public common proves more complex than first suspected. Her friends' pasts and their relationships with her and each other hold the clues to her death and to three other murders. Jealousy drives much of the action, and women and men use sex to manipulate each other.
Bruce in her debut novel Cambridge Blue develops complex characters and shows an admirable command of language, but overuse of brand names detracts. Inconsistencies and withholding information from the reader mars her clever mystery. Other Goodhew adventures are sure to follow.