Source: Review copy
Publication: 14th November 2019 2019 from Wildfire
Suspended from duty after her last case ended in the high-profile arrest of one of Britain’s wealthiest men, DC Constance Fairchild is trying to stay away from the limelight. Fate has other ideas . . .
Coming home to her London flat, Constance stumbles across a young man, bloodied, mutilated and barely alive. She calls it in and is quickly thrown into the middle of a nationwide investigation . . . It seems that the victim is just the latest in a string of similar ritualistic attacks.
No matter that she is off-duty, no matter that there are those in the Met who would gladly see the back of her, Con can’t shake her innate determination to bring the monsters responsible for this brutality to justice.
Trouble always seems to find her, and even if she has nothing to hide, perhaps she has everything to lose . . .
The paperback of Nothing to Hide is published this week and I am delighted to re-share my review of a book I really enjoyed. More and more this series is feeling like it’s my happy place. Not, I hasten to add, because it is all sweetness and light; far from it. But I love James Oswald’s characters and in the Con Fairchild novels he’s got all the ingredients for a cracking crime novel with a difference and when he mixes them together he gets the balance and texture spot on.
Con Fairchild is Lady Constance Fairchild, though her title is not something she would dream of using. The tabloids refer to her as ‘the Posh Cop’ ever since she uncovered a web of corruption which led to the murder of her old boss.
She’s been suspended since then, awaiting her opportunity to testify at the trial of wealthy businessman Roger De Villiers and D.S. Gordon Bailey who between them ran a murky business empire.
Con isn’t all that popular with some members of her own force, either, Cops died in the final fall out that Con was at the heart of and that won’t be forgotten for a very long time. So she’s returned home to her cold and stark London flat, where she does her best to avoid the journalists that seem to be dogging her every footstep.
She’s hardly back before she discovers a young black man by the bins behind her flat, badly injured, his tongue and testicles removed. DCI Bain of the NCA doesn’t want Con involved because of her profile and her suspension, but what she has stumbled on belongs squarely to an active investigation Bain is leading, dealing with similar bodies, except that these were all dead.
Con, aptly named for such a dogged, determined woman, needs to know what happened to this young man and a chance encounter with a young woman elicits a name, at least, before the woman runs off. To avoid the press and make herself useful, Bain agrees that she should go and talk to the young man’s mother, who lives in Edinburgh.
On her way she calls in home and stays with her Aunt
Felicity. Her brother Ben is getting married to Charlotte shortly and Con needs
to tell her mother that she won’t be attending. The last thing Charlotte and
Ben need is a bunch of paps turning up at their wedding in search of the ‘Posh
cop’ and her family.
Her mother introduces her to an imposing figure, The Reverend Dr Edward Masters of the Church of the Coming Light. She knows their name because she has seen them taking some of the homeless and drug addicts off the streets in London, near where she lives.
In Edinburgh, she stays with the delightful, mysterious Madame Rose, who as ever is able to anticipate her every need and it isn’t long before she becomes embroiled in another dead body case with remarkably similar hallmarks.
Con can smell the evil that’s surrounding these bodies and she’s got a pretty good idea where it’s coming from. The only question is whether she can stay alive long enough to solve the case and bring the perpetrator to justice.
Nothing to Hide can be read as a stand-alone as sufficient backstory is given, but with such a new series, I’d start from the beginning to get the whole picture. We’re learning more about Con as the story develops and she’s beginning to take shape a lot more clearly in my mind now, as I learn things about her personal characteristics as well as her attitudes and friendships.
Con is lucky to have made a tentative friendship with DC Karen Eve, as both women are likely to join the National Crime Agency and I hope we will see them working together more in future books in the series. One of Con’s drawbacks to date has been her isolation; the difficulty she has in making friends and having someone with whom to share theories and ideas, so a permanent friendship or sidekick would be a boon for her. I liked Con’s neighbour Mrs Feltham, and a new character, Superintendent Diane Shepherd is shaping up to be really interesting! I must say that Oswald does write his women characters well.
I really enjoy the sense of something other worldly that imbues these books; just out of reach of explanation, never tangible enough to grasp, but there in plain sight, all the same. The ambiguity of dealing with ritualistic crimes and looking for legal justice leads to a fascinating and utterly compelling tension that keeps the reader transfixed.
Verdict: Great characters, a complex murder investigation within a well layered plot with lots of action and some cracking, disturbing, moments. I loved Nothing to Hide.
James Oswald is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling Inspector McLean series of detective mysteries, as well as the new DC Constance Fairchild series. James’s first two books, Natural Causes and The Book of Souls, were both short-listed for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award.
James farms Highland cows and Romney sheep by day, writes disturbing fiction by night.