Dying for Justice by Pauline Lynne Isaksen is a crime thriller set in England. Crime thrillers inevitably involve the police. Police procedures in England come complete with their own vocabulary strange to an American ear. A lot of other vocabulary was quite strange and new for me, much of it has to do with food and fashion. Because I learned new things, I really felt rewarded for reading the novel. The plot seemed to be a straightforward murder mystery but there were so many twists along the way, not to mention a surprising “pre-ending” that I was thoroughly entertained by this 244-page novel. It was a fast read of just under four hours and because of all the twists, it was a page-turner.
Parts I did not like, such as extensive descriptions of food, fashion, and a “snobbish” lifestyle were items I am sure other readers will like. My dislikes were far outweighed by my likes and I gave the story five Amazon stars. Although I initially read the novel on Kindle Unlimited, I purchased the novel after reading so I can recommend it to some of my British colleagues. I want them to explain some of the very British terms.
Michael Bradley is a teenage boy hunting with his father and a friend in the private hunting ground located on the family estate. He has become separated from the other two hunters when sees a deer and takes the shot. The deer disappeared from Michael’s scope, so he ran to a spot where he expected to claim his kill. Meanwhile, his father, Tom Bradley, was surprised to see a bullet hole appear in the forehead of his friend, John Thornton. He was more surprised when his teenage son showed up to claim his prize.
The mystery begins. Was Michael an excellent shot? Did he mean to do it? Police forensics said the bullet in the head of Thornton came from Michael’s gun. There had only been one shot. What kind of motive might a teenager have to do such a thing? These are questions Julia Ainsworth wants to answer. And this is where the British terminology starts to confuse me. Julia is a lawyer, but the English have lawyers, solicitors, advocates and probably other legal terms I don’t know about. In this novel, Julia is called a lawyer, I will go with that. Her father, Jack Ainsworth is a lawyer turned politician and he has asked Julia to do what she can for Michael. His parents, Tom and Nicole Bradley, are Jack’s close friends. Julia agrees and interviews the Bradley family. Something about the interview seems off to Julia. Julia’s father and the Bradley parents encouraged Julia to get an agreement for a guilty plea for Michael. As a juvenile, he would not spend long in jail.
I had my suspicions of a guilty party early in the novel. By the 81% point in the novel, I still could not be sure. Although I almost got it right, there was a well-concealed culprit and I was still surprised at the “pre-ending” by the complexity of the crime. Therefore, the five-star rating.
What is a “pre-ending?” For me, when the crime is solved, when justice is done, the novel should end. This one doesn’t. There is an Epilogue titled Three Years Later which I very definitely could have done without. The amount of sweetness in the ending almost required medical attention. Still, there was no taking away from the good writing that preceded it so before I wrote this review, I did some sort of mental exercise to erase the Epilogue from memory.
This is good, original, entertaining (and very British) storytelling. It will take the edge off a bring weekend.