17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 23 April 2011
Severn Vale District Coroner Jenny Cooper is called to a cemetery in Bristol where the naked body of a man has been discovered - the sign of the cross scored into his flesh.
DI Tony Wallace SCO presiding, seems relatively informative, not the usual obstructive Police Officer she has come to expect.
Returning to her office Jenny is confronted with Father Lucas Starr who entreats Jenny to look into the death of an ex-porno star, reborn again, high profile political campaigner, Eve Donaldson for whom Paul Craven has been sentenced for her murder - but did he do? Father Starr begs Jenny to interview Paul Craven herself, convinced that once she meets him she will be certain of his innocence. Jenny decides to order a final post mortem on Eve Donaldson, little knowing that investigating the death will lead her into conflict with influential people who have a lot to lose should she delve too deeply into The Mission Church of God. As she pursues her enquiries she comes up against blank walls, but when she discovers that two other recent deaths, including the man found in the cemetery are also members of the same religious organisation she begins to suspect a link to the death of Eve Donaldson. The odds are stacked against Jenny, as attempts to silence her come from several sources. But Jenny is undeterred as she seeks the truth
Jenny is still seeing Dr Allen for her own problems, and whilst a recent visit to her father who is suffering from dementia has resulted in a startling revelation, she is reluctant to share this information with Dr Allen. All she says is that she is now coping. But she is aware that it is only her medication that is holding her demons at bay - they are still lurking at the margins of her subconscious - waiting in the shadows.
Jenny is formidable on one level, that of a coroner - her questioning and control of the inquest is skilful, but she is fragile on a personal level, looking to fall apart at any moment. She constantly pops pills and it is clear that without pills she cannot function.
A compelling read, as a young woman with personal demons doggedly chips away as she seeks truth and justice. With plenty of court room drama and a satisfying conclusion this books is highly recommended.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This is the third of Hall's Jenny Cooper series, and the setup and atmosphere established in the earlier books continues.
Cooper is a Bristol coroner, a woman battling enemies inside and out. Inside, she struggles with her mental health, fighting uneasily laid memories of childhood trauma around he cousin's death with a scary array of pills and drink. She is merciless to herself, and equally merciless to those she believes are trying to obstruct justice. In Cooper, Hall has created a magnificent character for whose very sanity the reader begins to fear. Or perhaps one should fear for her liberty, as she confronts an obstructive and cynical legal establishment which always seems set on burying the truth (and her). It makes for a potent story. The detective who destroys him or her self pursuing justice might be a bit of a cliche, but Hall's coronial setting gives it a surprising degree of freshness and these adventures are never less than absorbing.
In this instalment, Cooper insists on holding an inquest into the death of a former adult film star turned decency campaigner - even though a recently released criminal has been convicted of her murder. As ever, the Establishment has things to hide, and Cooper's enquiry rapidly uncovers a nest of corruption and hypocrisy.
Although there is an unexpected twist in this story, I did feel that perhaps the conspiracy unravelled a bit neatly, compared with the previous two, and that Jenny's allies also appeared one the scene from nowhere and a rather too conveniently. But it's still a rattling good story and I look forward to more.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
After my less than enthusiastic review of the two earlier novels, it was always my intention to obtain book 3 and I'm glad I did.
This is a far better paced book, with good inquest scenes and a credible whodunnit effect. Many suspects are thrown at us, indeed, the killer, it seems, has been caught and is in jail so enter the District Coroner, Jenny Cooper.
Since book 2 I have warmed to the girl. She still pops pills but not at the previously alarming rate. She still can't deal with her social life and, surprise, surprise, she's still in conflict with not only the police again but also the Judicial Service, not a force to be trifled with.
Put in the religion quota and Cooper is up against all sorts of forces as she struggles to find the real killer of a latter-day porn star. It's the pages about the religious group which puts me off. I accept they are around, that people blindly follow some of them but I don't really want to read about what goes on in the name of a faith. It slows down the story and makes me want to skip pages - which I did. Once Mr. Hall is back on track, the storyline moves along rapidly. Cooper is verbally attacked, physically attacked from just about about every source but still she manages to resolve the issue when just desserts are meted out.
The Court scenes are well done, perhaps a little laboured as one of the solicitors tries to remind Cooper on numerous occasions but, all-in-all, it reads well and keeps you page turning for the right reasons, too.
I definitely will look for book 4, 'The Flight' in the fervent hope that Cooper ditches the pills, sticks with a decent lad and gains promotion. We shall see.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 1 May 2011
This is a superb book and I found it hard to put down until the mystery is solved. From innocuous beginnings in what appears to be a conventional crime case, the heroine digs deeper and deeper to discover a web of establishment intrigue and cover-up. Some marvellous scenes where she is warned off by the authorities, using blunter and blunter tools to enforce their will, but she perseveres to discover the truth. Hall is a master of the workings of the courts and the judicial system, and uses his knowledge to brilliant effect.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2012
This is the third book in the Jenny Cooper series and is even better than book 2, The Disappeared. I like the way that the crime and conspiracy themes link together, with Cooper constantly under pressure from establishment figures to "look the other way". When verbal persuasion fails, there are always dirty tricks available!
Although Cooper is a flawed individual - her hidden past started to be revealed in book 2 - she still doggedly sticks to her principles and an unbending quest for the truth. Despite her flaws, I found Cooper's determination to clear up doubts and get to the truth inspiring and would hope that someone in that job really does always go the extra mile in the fearless way she does.
The plot is solid, believable and well paced - I reluctantly put the book down at 11-50 pm on a Friday night, knowing I would have to pick it up again first thing after I'd had some sleep. I wasn't disappointed when I finished the book before lunchtime on Saturday.
I've recommended this to a number of friends and look forward to the next one.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 November 2011
Jenny Cooper is fast becoming a compelling literary character - ripe for TV drama and I can't wait for that should M R Hall be thinking about releasing his Jenny Cooper series of novels for the small screen.
How Jenny survives a day is beyond me...her drug dependency and personal life make her an interesting and original character - as if being a single (divorced)female wasn't enough!
The story development in The Redeemed matches The Coroner and The Disappeared for compelling page turning way into the wee small hours and like the first two of M R Hall's novels I was left feeling hungry for the next book. I am worried though that Jenny may not make it...she must be on her knees with exhaustion. I hopes M R Hall has sent her off for a well deserved rest at The Priory before the next book comes out in February.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 August 2012
I'm a follower of M.R. Hall Jenny Cooper series.
What I like about them the most is that the main character is a living person with her own problems, not some robotic workaholic investigator which is so often portrayed in crime novels.
I enjoyed this book, liked the main plot (Jenny's investigation) as well as her own struggle with her demons. Will definetely buy the next book in the series.
The reason I don't give 5 stars to this book is that throughout the book there were references to Alec McAvoy from The Disappeared, and I read The Disappeared probably more than a year ago, so I have no recollection at all who he is! Now finished the book, but I'm still in the dark about who this Alec is. Probably will need to find The Disappeared and refresh my memories!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
First Sentence: Jenny was drinking cordial by the stream at the end of her overgrown garden, watching a school of tiny brown trout flick this way and that, quick as lightning.
District Coroner Jenny Cooper is asked by Father Lucus Starr to look into the death of Eve Donaldson, an ex-porn star who professed to be born again and became a crusader against pornography and as a spokesperson for the Mission Church of God. When Jenny discovers two other recent deaths also have links to the church, she becomes more determined to find the truth; even though there are those who do everything they can to prevent it. In her personal life, it seems the blank spot in the memory of her childhood may not remain blank much longer. The question is whether Jenny will be able to deal with what she finds there.
There are definite strengths and weaknesses here. For me, Hall's strength is in writing the inquest scenes. A good courtroom scene, with its questioning and working to find the truth through verbal exchange, can be as gripping and exciting as any chase down a dark alley. Hall writes these scenes very well. I also find it fascinating to learn the way in which a British court of inquiry works and its scope of power and responsibility.
The story itself, seemed a bit cliché. The powerful politicians, the obstructive lawyers and even the missing memories which cause Cooper's dependence on anti-anxiety drugs become a bit worn out. Yes, there was a good twist at the end, but it didn't provide the dramatic "ah, ha" moment one would hope as it seemed a bit convenient. I, for one, am please that the character's "dark secret" has finally been revealed. I should love to see that be the end of that and Jenny grow into a stronger character. But that's just me.
Altogether, it is a good read with some very strong moments. I am actually curious to see where the series goes from here, which is a recommendation in itself.
THE REDEEMED (Legal Mys-Coroner Jenny Cooper-UK-Cont) - Good
Hall, M.R. - 3rd of series
Simon and Shuster, ©2011, US Hardcover - ISBN: 9781439157121
on 6 March 2013
In this 3rd book in the series, the sex relates to the death of an ex porn star, latterly a born-again Christian; the drugs to the numerous tablets swallowed by coroner Jenny Cooper to enable her to carry out her duties; the God to the Mission Church of God, and, unrelated, to a Jesuit priest in training, Father Starr.
All these aspects of the book interact in the inquest into the murder of Eva Donaldson, ex porn star, then a leading light in the evangelical Mission Church of God and the Decency campaign, for which there has already been a conviction following a confession.
Jenny's private life is as fraught and unsatisfactory as ever: work being her priority she stuggles to maintain a relationship with her now seventeen-year-old son Ross and partner Steve.
Once again the Establishment is ranged against her efforts to seek truth and justice. A climax in the case is reached in front of the world press just as the anti-porn Decency Bill is due to be debated in the House of Lords.
In a final twist, Jenny is threatened and progress is made towards uncovering the trauma causing her mental health issues, which I live in hope that she'll eventually resolve, removing the need for all the xanax and diazepam.
I came to this novel after reading "The Flight" which I very much enjoyed. The criticisms that recur in reviews of Hall's Jenny Cooper coroner novels mainly focus on plausibility. First, it needs to be said that fiction is fiction and that some licence is allowed. More important are those hostile reviews that focus on the "pill-popping" central character. Many might be surprised at the number of people in real life, who successfully hold down important public offices while suffering a variety of mental and emotional disorders for which medication is essential. Behind these brickbats seem to me to lie some pretty primitive views of mental health.
My hope is that Mr Hall is not going to circumvent Ms Cooper's condition by a simplistic reduction to discovery of hidden facts arrived at via regressive therapy, not that I am attacking this form of treatment in itself. The complexities and contradictions within her character are what give her credibility and make her so much more interesting than so many of the bland stereotypes who feature in crime novels. Sherlock Holmes was a cocaine addict by the way.
What we have here is a compelling storyline, beautifully paced that grips until the final page.