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4.5 out of 5 stars
Rack, Ruin and Murder: Campbell & Carter Mystery 2 (Campbell and Carter)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 June 2012
This is the first Ann Granger book I have read. The title intrigued me and the storyline seemed interesting so I thought maybe this would be another author to look for at the library.
I must admit that at first, I was not at all sure that I wanted to finish reading the book, but am glad that I persevered.
I like Ann's style of writing, even though my initial impressions led me to imagine the action to be taking place in America rather than in this country! (Goodness only knows why!)
Her characters seem very real and individual; the book contains humour, intrigue, poignancy and the entire story is one which is easily followed. Many facets of it are so true to life, too.
Overall, I recommend this novel and its author and will certainly add Ann Granger to my list of 'must look for' authors.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 November 2014
I had not read any of the author’s books before and was intrigued by her diverse foreign office background and experience. Ann Granger, b. 1939, has written many crime novels featuring Alan Markby and Meredith Mitchell, Lizzie Martin and Ben Ross, and Fran Varady. This is her second book about Inspector Jess Campbell and Superintendent Ian Carter.

The strap line on the front cover, ‘A dead body shatters the tranquility of a Cotswold village’], sets the scene and places the reader firmly in Agatha Christie country. Here the country manor, Balaclava House, is decrepit and belongs to disagreeable Monty Bickerstaffe, impoverished heir to a biscuit manufacturer. Returning home after visiting the supermarket and pub, he finds a dead body sitting on his sofa, a body he has never seen before. Enter Campbell, Carter and the rather plodding Sergeant Phil Morton.

Balaclava House is isolated and the cast of neighbouring farmers and petrol station workers is supplemented by Bickerstaffe’s estranged daughter, Belinda, his granddaughter, Tansy, and a property developer and his wife. All are deftly drawn, although tending to creep into stereotypes, and there is little development of their personalities. As the police investigation proceeds, the corpse is identified and the secrets of Balaclava House, somewhat far-fetched, and of the locals are revealed.

The plot is well thought through, if a little contrived, right through to the twist on the final page. The fractious relationships between Monty, the much-married Belinda and Tansy are nicely drawn as is the backstory of Monty’s youth and his failed marriage to a neighbour’s daughter. The narrative was strangely timeless and it was only with the mention of mobile phones, a Lexus model and celebrity ‘ghosted’ biographies that one was brought back to the present day.

The violence, apart from the initial killing, is confined to a farmer waving a shotgun and, overall, this is gentle, holiday-reading fare, but none the worse for that. There is a vague sense of romance between Campbell and pathologist, Tom Palmer, who finds a vital clue in the local dentist’s waiting room. Whilst Carter is overshadowed by Campbell throughout it was good to have such a confident and determined female police officer.

It would be unfair to base a judgement on Campbell and Co. after just this one read. This is not Scandinavian noir writing but the author obviously has a big following. Perhaps my disappointment lies in the fact that there was not more of her international background stitched into the story. Lucy Davey's cover illustration is a perfect match for the story.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 17 January 2012
In my opinion this is Ann Granger's best ever murder mystery with a brilliant ending of unguessable twist and turns - unputdownable
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A drawing room murder with a little wit thrown in. Iam not a fan of Granger's Fran Vardy series but loved Markby and Mitchell. This was tame reading, at times ponderous. I don't like the word "stiff" which appeared very often to describe the body found on the sofa of Monty's Balaclava home. In spite of his unpopularity in the village I found Monty a bit of a charmer, sad with his harking back to his childhood trauma and his marriage to Penny, but Granger did create a character in him which is more than can be said about the very many other poeple who walked through the pages of this novel. The plot was weak and there were no real sub-plots to add interest. Disappointing.
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on 10 November 2013
This is not the best police procedural I have read but it is also a very long way from being the worst. Granger can certainly put a plot together and keep you guessing. The odd thing jarred as they always do, but there was a wonderful central character (Monty) who I was out there rooting for. If you want a clinically accurate police procedure, you will be disappointed, but if on the other hand entertainment is what you are after, try this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 August 2013
A good a easy read with interesting plot. I shall read more of this author's books.
It made good bedtime reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2012
I found this book relaxing to read. Not too much violence or gore in it for a change. A before bedtime read.
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on 30 October 2013
I have read the Markby and Mitchell books by Ann Granger and had liked them immensely so I decided to read this series too. I like the fact that they are easy reading and also a good murder story. I have recommended them to my friend and she is borrowing my book at the moment. I hope the relationship between Campbell & Carter flourishes like it did with Markby and Mitchell.
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on 29 July 2013
Great follow up to the first book in this series. Descriptions made you feel like you were there. Good to get to know the characters in more detail.

Would recommend this to anyone who enjoys detective stories.
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on 11 August 2014
I have this in a Kindle version and my usual objection to Kindle applies; sometimes they're there and sometimes they've gone off into cyberspace. I've never yey succeeded in re-downloading a Kindle novel..
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