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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Has DC Fiona Griffiths finally lost her grip of Planet Normal?
This is the third book in the DC Fiona Griffiths series and it's the best yet. Fiona goes under cover as Fiona Gray and she is so convincing she starts to lose connection with her real persona. The Stieg Larsson Dragon trilogy introduced us to a vulnerable yet feisty heroine. Fiona Griffiths fits that description. She is spectacularly vulnerable and at the same time...
Published 10 months ago by Lolsimmo

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3.0 out of 5 stars Not Your Typical Protagonist
As far as crime detectives go Fiona Griffiths is, by her own admission, not the typical protagonist. At first the writing, in it's almost procedural style, feels a little sparse but as we learn more of Fiona it's exactly as pragmatic as she is.

Going undercover, for someone whose past includes mental health issues, seems a dangerous ploy for Fiona to agree to,...
Published 6 days ago by P. M. Ryans


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Has DC Fiona Griffiths finally lost her grip of Planet Normal?, 17 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths (DC Fiona Griffiths Book 3) (Kindle Edition)
This is the third book in the DC Fiona Griffiths series and it's the best yet. Fiona goes under cover as Fiona Gray and she is so convincing she starts to lose connection with her real persona. The Stieg Larsson Dragon trilogy introduced us to a vulnerable yet feisty heroine. Fiona Griffiths fits that description. She is spectacularly vulnerable and at the same time intelligent, resourceful and endearingly brave. Fiona loses her sense of self but gains something that might well end up strengthening her tenuous grip of planet normal. I recommend this book highly. I love the immediacy of the writing. There is not a single word wasted and every page steadily contributes to a very satisfying read. It will be a long wait until book 4.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Progress all round, 2 April 2014
By 
Michael Watson "skirrow22" (Halifax, England) - See all my reviews
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In my review of the previous Fiona Griffiths novel, Love Story, With Murders, I noted that it would be good to see how this character develops.

And so we have book 3 which is better than book 2 for which I also gave 5 stars. FG in this story goes undercover and becomes Fiona Grey which just about sums up her place in the system. A superstore has a payroll mystery, money paid to invisible people, so FG is sent in to see if there are any clues as to who is doing this.

From this point, we have a deep and sometimes dark police procedural but based mainly on the activities of FG.

In this book, she is much harder, even more determined to see the job through and even more beholden to her almost schizophrenic self. It is this illness which determines, more or less, how she plays out her undercover role.

The payroll theft is just the start; one store becomes many leading up to a mega heist of such complexity to the layman but so easy to an expert in IT Payroll that you have to keep reading to see how it is made to work.

FG is still chasing her birth parents, still much adored by her adoptive parents but for this book, there is little time to progress. We know, of course, that sooner or later this will feature more to the fore and we know , thanks to this book, that an individual such as FG will not leave any stone unturned to achieve closure.

It's a good read, for sure. FG moves almost seamlessly into her second life, becoming involved with the main criminal, still finding time to become engaged to 'Buzz', her policeforce lover, keeping one step ahead of a paranoid security check almost daily. We know that she will have to face these contradictions at some point, so when the finale does arrive, the outcome is fairly certain. However, the author handles the writing of this with some panache and FG remains a hard-nosed yet fraught individual with an inward illness which at times works well for her, at others not quite so; it all depends where she is.

So, we await book 4 for which I am certainly putting down my name once published.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tight, tense tale that goes in some very dark places, literally and figuratively., 19 Jun. 2014
By 
A. I. McCulloch "Andrea" (Co Durham) - See all my reviews
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I really looked forward to reading this and I wasn't disappointed. We're back with one of the most original characters in detective fiction, Fiona Griffiths. This is the third Fiona novel and whilst it can be read and enjoyed independently, I had a much better understanding of Fiona having read the preceding book, though an explanation of Fiona's illness, Cotard's Syndrome is given in the first third of the story.

What a story it is... Fiona goes way undercover to investigate a payroll fraud and the gruesome death of a lonely middle aged woman, that may be the top of a much bigger story. She becomes mousy, quiet Fiona Grey, whose best friends are her fellow office cleaners and hostel inmates, saving every penny she can to rent a tiny flat near Cardiff's busy, noisy Western Avenue.

But being Fiona Grey isn't enough to find out what Fiona needs to know... so another disguise and identity emerges, that of sassy, streetwise Jessica Taylor. Meanwhile Fiona the detective has to operate without being discovered and endangering her life. Then there is Fiona's relationship with her now fiancé and colleague, David 'Buzz' Brydon to somehow maintain.

Harry Bingham has produced another cracking tale that really keeps you reading as the story takes yet another unexpected but still plausible turn. I was slightly surprised to discover he lives near Oxford and not in the Cardiff he writes of so well. Another book that proves that Scotland haven't cornered the market in top-class gritty, quirky detective fiction.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely gripping, 8 April 2014
By 
Patricia Hill "triciahill" (Hanwell, London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths (DC Fiona Griffiths Book 3) (Kindle Edition)
I have read all three Fiona Griffiths books in the last week, and I enjoyed the first two. Fiona's Cotard's syndrome is an original and fresh take on the damaged detective trope and I liked the Welsh setting and her growing relationship with. Buzz.

But I have neglected everything I should have been doing for the past three hours to finish the third book - it was so gripping and tense. In a strange way (because Fiona is the polar opposite of Reacher) it reminded me of the best Jack Reacher books. I recommend reading the books in order because the first two lead so well to the third. Can't wait for the fourth - write like the wind, Harry!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absorbing Read About an Unlikely Police Woman, 20 Sept. 2014
By 
Brett H "pentangle" (Brighton) - See all my reviews
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Fiona Griffiths makes for an unlikely policewoman as she has severe personality issues, as well as being the adopted daughter of Cardiff's former crime supremo. However, when introduced to undercover police work she proves to be a natural. Since her disorder means that she has huge problems in working out what are normal emotional responses in real life, she is largely playing a part in ways that seem appropriate. Hence, in undercover work, assuming a new persona and acting convincingly is really only an extension of what she normally does.

Following her undercover training which she passes with flying colours, Fiona soon has her opportunity to exercise her newly acquired skills in a fraud case which quickly starts claiming lives. This proves to be a lengthy deep cover assignment as Fiona works to burrow towards the core of a sophisticated and far reaching conspiracy.

I particularly liked the way that Fiona treated each of her real personality and the two she assumes the role of, as separate people. It almost reads like a split personality scenario, but given her personality disorder is something to which the reader can relate. There have, apparently, been two previous Fiona Griffiths books which I have not read. However, I found this in no way a hindrance to my enjoyment of this story which can very much be read on a standalone basis.

If I have any criticism it is that things took a little while to get into gear and the background to the fraud makes for slightly dry reading. However, once things get going this is an absorbing read and I galloped through the 580 odd pages very quickly. I will certainly be happy to read any further Fiona Griffiths books which come my way.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant thriller, 29 Aug. 2014
By 
Terry D "tdawson735" (UK) - See all my reviews
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Harry Bingham has given us a genuinely original thriller, one that I found impossible to put down - and, when I'd finished, made me download the two earlier Fiona Griffiths books Talking to the Dead and Love Story, With Murders.

The characterisation - Fiona Griffiths aka Fiona Gray aka Jessica Taylor - plus her colleagues in the CID - is utterly convincing. So too are the criminals and the down-and-out characters Fiona encounters as she slips into an undercover role to help investigate a payroll scam, an unfortunate death and a murder.

But the payroll scam, and the lengths to which the criminals are prepared to go, proves to be anything but trivial. As Fiona penetrates deeper into the organisation Harry Bingham deftly takes us into the shadowy world of IT fraud, money laundering and the resources the police and SOCA - the Serious Organised Crime Agency - have at their disposal.

Like most people I've (fortunately) absolutely no experience with armed response units and SOCA but Harry Bingham writes with a calm and detailed authority. Fiona is assured she'll be under their protection the whole time; they'll have armed response officers ready should the situation ever call for it. A little later she discovers that, whenever she meets the `bad' guys there's a minimum of two armed officers within 60 seconds of her whilst three further uniformed officers, two of them armed, are in a patrol car no more than half a mile distance.

`When we make our move, get down on the ******* floor and don't move a ******* inch...' Which, Fiona subsequently realises, is a pithily accurate description of what happens on a raid conducted by the SCO19 firearms command - a circling helicopter, glass and bullets everywhere, men in black with kevlar body armour and automatic weapons, shattered wood and lots of shouting...

Not unexpectedly it doesn't quite go to plan - but the entire story, and particularly the ending, is impossibly gripping.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not Your Typical Protagonist, 22 Jan. 2015
By 
P. M. Ryans "Historian71" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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As far as crime detectives go Fiona Griffiths is, by her own admission, not the typical protagonist. At first the writing, in it's almost procedural style, feels a little sparse but as we learn more of Fiona it's exactly as pragmatic as she is.

Going undercover, for someone whose past includes mental health issues, seems a dangerous ploy for Fiona to agree to, yet her investigative mind has already revealed much more to what looked like a straightforward fraud case. After she discovers the body of a woman involved, possibly by name only, in the fraud Fiona has a compulsion to proceed into this second life, knowing full well that if found out her fate will be the same as either the woman who starved to death despite being within walking distance from help or of the man, also involved in the initial fraud, found tied to a chair having bled out from his severed hands. It's as stark as that.

As she begins her undercover life the old Fiona not only comes to terms with her new persona but also seems to prefer the simple life. Having just committed to her relationship with her colleague boyfriend, a commitment to join what Fiona calls 'Planet Normal' she steps away from it all to assume the identity of Fiona Gray, payroll assistant. As she gets closer to the truth she gets further from herself.

This is the third Fiona Griffith book and reading the previous two is not necessary to enjoy the story in this, whether or not it is enough to encourage the reader to dig out the first books is another matter.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sense of Self, 11 Jan. 2015
By 
D. Elliott (Ulverston, Cumbria) - See all my reviews
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In this psychological thriller cum police procedural the main protagonist is Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths, or Fiona Grey when involved in undercover operations. The Book’s title ‘The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths’ is linked to a rare mental condition, Cotards Syndrome, in which the person afflicted holds the delusion that they are dead. Fiona has suffered in the past and she suspects her illness was related to how she was abandoned as a 2 year old, and though she recovered she still struggles to lead an ‘ordinary’ life.

When Fiona Griffiths accepts to go undercover to help resolve a massive payroll fraud in an organisation she immerses herself so completely as Fiona Grey that her real self is largely denied. There is stage at which operations could be wound up, but Fiona’s reaction is go even deeper. The Fiona Grey persona shifts to another undercover identity, and still she continues the internal conflicts within herself and she increases her isolation. The real Fiona Griffiths is desperate for a sense of self, yet she is something of a maverick and as she assists with the payroll case she also pursues her own enquires to discover her past. This continues throughout an intriguing story of criminality at its most audacious, and it makes for a gripping and compelling read. Even at the conclusion Fiona is scheming and pursuing her own agenda - perfect for another book in the series!

The story of ‘The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths’ is told in the first person by Fiona, with author Harry Bingham adopting a clipped dialogue staccato writing style that is well suited to the situations faced, decisions that have to be taken, and actions that follow. It is a rollicking roller-coaster tale full of suspense, though perhaps characters are somewhat contrived and hardly credible, and often the plot is implausible. But hey - it’s fiction - it still deserves a 5-star rating.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths, 21 Oct. 2014
By 
Gill (Bangor, NI) - See all my reviews
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The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths is the third book in a series by Harry Bingham. Having not read any of the previous books it is hard to tell if I have missed out as a result – I suspect some of the character quirks of Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths were explained in an earlier saga. This book, however, follows Fiona, newly qualified from an undercover training course, as she is given her first role as part of an operation to infiltrate a payroll fraud in Cardiff. Told from Fiona’s point of view, I found myself carried along as she struggles to differentiate between her “normal” life as a DC and that of her undercover persona, Fiona Grey, a payroll clerk subsidising her meagre income with ad-hoc cleaning jobs. As she settles into her role(s), it soon becomes clear that anything which has happened to date has only been a test run in a much larger and highly organised crime involving not only IT fraud but also money laundering and murder, all of which puts her in some extremely dangerous and disturbing situations. During the operation she has to change her persona yet again from Fiona Grey to Jessie Taylor, the polar opposite of both Fiona Grey and Fiona Griffiths and all of her thoughts, feelings, fears and experiences throughout are told with such attention to detail that the tension slowly builds and is maintained until the final paragraph. Harry Bingham is a very talented author with an easy readable style and I thoroughly enjoyed The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths, a captivating and gritty novel with a quirky, clever and resourceful protagonist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars we enjoy a challenge, 9 Dec. 2014
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This is the book that changed my mind about crime fiction. Initially I was a bit dubious when our all-female book club decided that it would be an interesting intellectual exercise to read in a genre which wouldn't be our first choice. But then, we enjoy a challenge, particularly in this case because the plot is based in our home city and the book is written by a male author in a female voice. Frankly, I didn't expect to enjoy it but surprised myself by becoming absolutely immersed in it. It's a long read ... but you do keep turning those pages. Highly recommended.
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