Title: Talking to the Dead
Author: Harry Bingham
Publication date: 28 March 2013
Length: 378 pages
Age group: Adult
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Buy it: Amazon | The Book Depository
It’s DC Fiona Griffiths’ first murder case – and she’s in at the deep end. A woman and her six-year-old daughter killed with chilling brutality in a dingy flat. The only clue: the platinum bank card of a long-dead tycoon, found amidst the squalor.
DC Griffiths has already proved herself dedicated to the job, but there’s another side to her she is less keen to reveal. Something to do with a mysterious two-year gap in her CV, her strange inability to cry – and a disconcerting familiarity with corpses.
Fiona is desperate to put the past behind her but as more gruesome killings follow, the case leads her inexorably back into those dark places in her own mind where another dead girl is waiting to be found…
It’s been a few weeks since I finished Talking to the Dead but I’m still in two minds about it. On the one hand, I do like the idea behind the novel. Bingham managed to create a realistic setting and a plausible crime which isn’t far-fetched and could easily happen in today’s Britain. Which is great. I’ve never been a big fan of fantastic plots so his ability to create a world which is so similar to our own is something I definitely enjoyed about the book.
The fact that he doesn’t try to be violent, sensationalist and gory just to make his story more popular is also something to be appreciated. There is no torture, no detailed description of corpses and bloody crime scenes in the book, nothing that more imaginative readers couldn’t handle. Which, again, is great.
Yet, the crime itself (i.e the whole mystery that needed to be solved) wasn’t as memorable, chilling or fast-paced as I expected. In fact, I felt like the story dragged quite a bit. Although I have to add that the last few chapters of the book where Fi captures the killer were brilliant and as intense as I was hoping the book would be, the rest was definitely not as action-packed as I thought it would be.
As gutted as I am to say this, what made me want to read on wasn’t down to how excellent the plot was but to Fiona’s character. I love unreliable characters and people with a dark past and dark secrets, and Fi definitely has an interesting story. What happened in her past that made her like this and which makes her behave the way she does? The mystery surrounding her childhood and teenage years makes you want to find out more despite the fact that the investigation isn’t really going anywhere.
Even though I found Talking to the Dead rather slow for my liking, I will definitely continue with the series. I really got to like Fi’s character and I’m looking forward to seeing how her life progresses – I just hope Love Story, With Murders will be at least a tiny bit more dynamic than this book was.
*Many thanks to Orion for sending me a copy for review*