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Customer Review

68 of 74 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cliched? Yes. Full of Stock characters? Yes - and yet....., 27 Jan. 2009
This review is from: The Coroner (Coroner Jenny Cooper series) (Hardcover)
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The tag line on the front of this book is 'I'm a Coroner. I spend my life laying things to rest'. We are introduced to the new Coroner of Severn Vale. Her name is Jenny Cooper, newly divorced and recovering from a breakdown, her teenage son lives with his father and new girlfriend and it is made clear from the very start of the book that Jenny has some deep childhood trauma in her life that has affected her personality and made her doubt herself and her abilities.

OK so we have the usual maverick type person, knocking back tranquilizers and wine as if they are going out of fashion, full of angst and generally falling apart and I felt a weariness of spirit come upon me and thought Do I really really want to read this? Do I really want to end up feeling as if I too would like to put my head in the gas oven? (As I am all electric decided there was no danger so on I went). I persevered and glad I did as I gradually became drawn into the story. Jenny's curiosity is aroused by the previous coroner's behaviour prior to his death and the fact he was trying to get to the bottom of the death of a teenager who had committed suicide in a young offender's institution. Then there was the drug related death of a young teenage girl, another suicide, seems a clear open and shut case, but as with all good crime stories, we begin to doubt that all is as it seems and Jenny decides to investigate further.

Once again, the usual stock characters pop up, the local businessman and Member of the Council, obnoxious and pompous who does not want Jennie to get involved, he is clearly on the make and has been taking backhanders from the owners of the offender's facility who want to build a bigger and better commercially run building elsewhere; the policeman, ambitious and ruthless who has skimmed over the investigation into the teenage girl's drug induced death; a slimy lawyer and an investigative journalist seeking a good story.

As she digs deeper into the mystery and cover up nasty things begin to happen to Jenny and her friends and her new lover, but the reader knows that ultimately she will find the guilty party. She does but it is not quite such a clear cut ending as normal and we are left with characters who are obviously going to reappear in the next story of what we are told is 'a fantastic new series heroine who takes on the establishment in a search of truth and justice whilst dealing with a very broken personal life'.

I always feel if you are going to use a cliche or two, then you may as well go the whole hog and The Coroner certainly does not hold back in this regard. And yet, and yet - I found myself becoming more and more engrossed with this story, I began to feel great sympathy for Jennie and though there were times when I felt like screaming DON'T DO THAT as I could see disaster just around the corner, ultimately this turned into a real page turner and one that I thoroughly enjoyed, despite my initial doubts. The final scene in the court room was very exciting and extremely filmic and I did my usual trick of casting actors in the various roles - already have an idea for Jennie - and I find that I can recommend this book to you as a good start to the series and I am looking forward to the next one.

I had assumed, that like JK Rowling, M R Hall was a woman as the book is certainly written from a woman's viewpoint and is sympathetic to Jenny's unhappiness and vulnerability. However, I have just checked and have discovered that he is "a screenwriter and producer and former criminal barrister, a profession he left due to a constitutional inability to prosecute".

So now we know.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Feb 2009 16:01:13 GMT
I enjoyed reading this review, found it very helpful and made me want to read the book. Elaine's other reviews, which are of books I would not normally consider, were very good, she should consider writing!

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Mar 2009 11:18:23 GMT
Agreed, though I didn't need the plot explaining in all that detail since there's a synopsis on the page already. Well argued though.

Posted on 16 Jun 2010 17:06:21 BDT
Have just been attempting to read this book but gave up around page 100 after deciding that the central figure may have one problem too many. However your 'warts and all' review has decided me to have another try. We will see...

Posted on 3 Jun 2014 14:18:28 BDT
Ann Mcardle says:
Read review enjoyed and will be getting this book for my book club,,
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