On Laughton Moor

- police procedural, mystery, Lincolnshire


On Laughton Moor

Lisa Hartley


Detective Sergeant Catherine Bishop has an enigmatic new boss, DI Jonathan Knight. How he'll adapt to life in Lincolnshire after years in the Met is anyone's guess.

When the body of a well-known local thug is discovered, an intriguing message found on his battered corpse raises unwelcome questions. Is DS Bishop herself being accused of the grisly murder, or does the message point to a more sinister secret?

As the body count grows higher, Bishop and Knight find themselves in a race against time to discover the identity of a merciless, faceless killer whose motivation is a mystery.

My Thoughts

I enjoyed this book. It’s a good introduction to new characters and is the first in a series of books about Detective Sergeant Catherine Bishop and her boss, Detective Inspector Jonathan Knight.

The characterisation is good – very good. None of the characters are over the top or clichéd – a welcome change in this genre. They are just ordinary people doing a tough job – sometimes they mess up, sometimes they get lucky, all the time they are doing their best. It is excellent to read a gay main character without the book being about a gay character – that is one aspect of the person but by no means the overriding definition. Great stuff. The secondary characters are well drawn and there is just the right balance between work life and home life for the main ones.

But I did recognise aspects of the storyline. Maybe this genre has been so prolifically written that it is hard to be fresh and innovative and it is all now about how the stories are executed. In that respect, it is executed pretty darn well – but, still, the shocks weren’t all that surprising. I was anticipating them even though the clues weren’t there because, well, that’s how I would expect a writer to try to shock the reader. And I’ve read them all before.

There were a few aspects I didn’t really understand and which didn’t get tied up, which I found frustrating. I was left with dangling questions – I went back over some bits to see how I’d missed the answers, but I don’t think they were there in the first place. I didn’t really get the connection between Catherine and the killer – and it’s never really explained; one hypothesis is given, but then not followed up. It seemed to me to be an unnecessary complication in the storyline.

But as a first novel, it certainly left me anticipating the second in the series, and there are some story lines that are hinted at as continuing in the next book. The writing, dialogue and characterisation are all good and show great promise for a long-running series. But the plotting needs to get better if I am to make it to the third. Although I’ve categorised it under police procedural, there’s not much nitty-gritty police stuff in it – I do wonder how much research was done for the writing of this.

I think you will like this book if you like Lisa Cutts and early Kerry Wilkinson (Peter James, too, but not so polished).

Editorial Input & Design

The book definitely needs a proofread. The errors are all small, but there are far too many of them. They don’t pull you out of the story particularly (although sometimes they made me stumble), but they are irritating.

The book could have done with a deeper developmental edit. I would have advised a stronger link between the good guy and the bad guy (or preferably no link at all) and I would possibly have advised against the bad guy’s chapters, as in my opinion they don’t add to the story. There is occasionally a point of view that isn’t necessary, and which makes the story a bit fragmented. There are a few police oversights over which ‘questions will be asked’ – maybe too many, as they gave the impression of just being a device to move the story in the direction the author wanted. The subplot was really just a parallel story – the book could have managed without it, but it may be setting the scene for later development (but if you take this as a standalone book, it seems irrelevant). And there are plot holes that need filling, neatening and smoothing around the edges to avoid the shoe-horning of unlikely events to steer the story in the right direction. I would have suggested a bit more thought into the naming of the characters.and a few more clues to their appearance.

But despite these criticisms, I still enjoyed reading it!

Cover: Suitably atmospheric and aimed at the target audience. I like it. The blurb suggests that Catherine might be considered to be the killer, but that isn’t part of the story at all. The cover was designed by Paper and Sage – the front and back covers are shown on their website.

Internal design: I read this on a Kindle. The formatting needs some work. There were some odd line breaks, and inconsistent paragraph indenting (or no indents, as the case may be). There are no links to individual chapters and no navigation to jump through the book chapter by chapter.

Book Clubs & Reviews

A bit light for a book club choice, I’d say. Some character dissecting and motivations discussion, but nothing too in-depth. There could be some discussion on people and drug trafficking, how children do what they know to be wrong just so they can fit in, how families are destroyed by tragedy, and fear of situations out of one’s control.

What others are saying Goodreads readers give it 1 star (1 rating); Amazon UK readers give it 4.3 stars (7 reviewers); no reviews yet on Amazon US.

Reviews:

None yet (14 February 2015).

Buy & Author

Available from:

Amazon (Kindle £1.99/$2.99; paperback £6.99/$11.35)

Follow the author:

Lisa Hartley is on Twitter @rainedonparade but appears to have no other online presence.

Links of interest

Jane Isaac Interview with the author

Rebecca Bradley Crime Interview with the author



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