This is a tense, suspenseful novel,
This review is from: Bleak Water (Paperback)The bleak water of the title is the canal basin of the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation - bleak indeed, a typical landscape of industrial decay. But also, as in so many cities, the scene of urban regeneration with the arts playing a typically prominent part. This is the home of the Second Site Gallery, where Eliza Eliot works as exhibition curator and lives in the flat above. Her current project is an exhibition called The Triumph of Death, a very modern interpretation of a Brueghel painting; this is a major coup for a small provincial gallery, being created by the renowned artist Daniel Flynn.
A fitting setting, then, for a series of deaths, some of them seemingly related to the themes of the Breughel picture. The first death predates the start of the novel - a small girl was murdered four years earlier, and a man (the lover of her mother) is in prison for the crime. It is clear from the start that his guilt is in doubt, and with two further murders and two very near misses suspicion falls elsewhere - on Eliza's colleague Jonathan and/or on Daniel Flynn. Motive is unclear - paedophilia? drugs? both? The novel is unusual in that there is a police investigation (and no unrealistic amateur detection) and yet the police are individuals having equal weighting with the other major players in the story. There are several threads to the story, several people in jeopardy for various reasons, but the seemingly disparate groups of characters turn out to be connected - with each other and with the exhibition.
This is a tense, suspenseful novel, never less than interesting and with some very poignant moments. If there is one criticism, it is that too many of the characters are not what they seem, and too many surprises are sprung at the end. (Sorry, that's two criticisms).
TW Reviewer Judith Rhodes