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Written in the first person, Quintin Jardine unveils the investigation of a naked man exhumed from a shallow grave. He has been buried with the care of a person who had a personal interest rather than malicious leading to the key factor of who and why did it occur. Jardine has developed a complex relationship with the protagonists. Chief constable Skinner and his colleagues (Harold 'sauce' Haddock, Dr Sarah Grace,Professor Hutchinson) plus an intriguing personal life with several marriages and offspring. He is determined to find the facts behind the death. The narrative is divided into the characters involved whether police or family. Each chapter leads up to a satisfying conclusion pieced together by the author in an intriguing way that I did not predict.Sometimes lengthy at times but an enjoyable read that keeps the interest and guess work going.
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VINE VOICEon 30 January 2013
I have read all the Bob Skinner stories and for me this one ranks amongst the best. The title is a strange one, but the meaning behind it soon becomes more obvious as the story goes on. I really liked and enjoyed the way the book was written in the first person, with each of the main characters being given the opportunity to express both their points of view and their personalities. It was interesting to hear different interpretations of a similar theme, and to learn what makes their character tick. The story builds up to a deadly and dangerous climax - but ends on a cliff hanger. Can't wait to get my hands on the next Bob Skinner novel to put my theories to the test. A great read, thoroughly recommended.
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on 29 May 2012
I know that Quintin Jardine has an army of fans, but I hadn't read any of his books until I bought a copy of his stand-alone novel 'The Loner' after reading a favourable press review. I was much impressed, and would have given that novel a four, or possibly even a five star rating, so when 'Funeral Note' appeared in the Amazon listings I had no hesitation in ordering a copy.

There are two basic plotlines in the novel. The first begins with an anonymous call to the Edinburgh Police Communications Centre, giving the precise location at which a body has been buried in the woods surrounding Mortonhall Crematorium. The second begins with an aborted surveillance operation at a pub in Slateford. The two suspects duly meet, but one of them receives a phone call and immediately disappears from the scene. The call is traced to a public telephone close to Gayfield Square Police Station. Is a rogue cop working for the dark side? Both threads develop interestingly, and ultimately lead to a cliffhanger climax.

This is the twenty-second novel in the Skinner series, and it is prefaced by a six-page explanation of the way in which the series has developed in the author's mind. He reflects upon the progressive development of his characters, and makes the valid observation that because the lead character holds high rank, there will necessarily be a large cast of supporting players, both within and outside of the police establishment. At one point, he even draws an analogy between the series and TV soaps like Coronation Street and Eastenders, and says that he is comfortable with such comparisons. It seems that the majority of the Skinner novels have been conventional third-party narratives, but this and the preceding novel have been, to a degree, experimental. 'Grievous Angel' was a retrospective novel, set 15 years earlier in Skinner's career and written as a first-person narrative. 'Funeral Note' goes a stage further; it's again in the first person, but told through the eyes of several different narrators - in fact, 'several' isn't an adequate word: there are eighteen indviduals delivering first-person accounts.

I think I need to stress again that I'm new to the series. I am very well aware that previous acquaintanceship with the characters would very likely colour my views, and potential readers who are already Skinner fans would be well advised to rely on the reviews provided by those writing from the same standpoint. I can only reflect my own reaction to the book, and I have reservations about it, which I'll try to explain.

First of all, the author's reference to TV soaps is apposite, though I think a closer comparison could be made with soap-style
dramas like Holby City or, in the crime genre, Scott and Bailey; dramas in which the ostensible subject matter - hospital life or police procedures - is diluted by the attention given to the personal lives of the characters. In the TV context, this may not be so important; the programmes pick up a following for what they are, though the audience may not be the same as that which would be attracted by a more genre-focused drama. With a book, the situation is rather different; crime novels are bought by those who enjoy the crime genre, and with this purchase I felt cheated. Coming cold to the series, I had little interest in the peripheral social relationships, and the early chapters failed to draw me in. I accept that there was ample backstory to bring me up to speed, but much of it was insufficiently relevant to make me WANT to be brought up to speed.

Secondly, the narration technique didn't work for me. Especially in the early part of the book, the same events are re-told from different viewpoints and this, together with the time spent on personal relationships and interactions, necessarily means that the development of the crime investigation, which I would expect to be at the core of the book, is painfully slow. The narrative runs to 385 pages, but the investigation doesn't gather any real momentum until the last hundred pages.

Finally, and no doubt influenced by the above considerations, most of the primary charactters don't strike me as being at all likeable. Skinner comes across as being extremely arrogant, as do some of his close associates - though I admit that this is a characteristic of (too) many of the senior police officers with whom I have come into contact. It's pretty much an unwritten law of crime fiction that the reader's empathy should be with the good guys; that happens in this case only because the bad guys are too remote to excite much reaction either way.

All of which is a pity. The author is a very skilful writer; his prose flows and reads easily and convincingly. I respect his courage in experimenting with an established series; without innovation the body of crime fiction would be much the poorer. Unhappily, this time the innovation simply doesn't work, at least through the eyes of a new reader. I didn't really enjoy the book, which would normally suggest a two-star rating, but there's an underlying quality about Jardine's writing which pulls my rating up to a neutral three stars. As suggested above, if you're already a Skinner fan you should ignore this review. If, like me, you are new to the series, this certainly isn't the place to start. I'd suggest that you buy a copy of one of the earlier novels and take it from there; that's what I now propose to do.

I appreciate tha a lot of people won't share my views; if you are among them, I'd much appreciate a comment identifying which of those views you regard as unjustifiable.
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on 25 May 2015
Having read every Skinner book thus far, and really loving them, I'm beginning to get very tired of this character. I think Quintin Jardine is just churning out something without actually thinking about the enjoyment for the reader. Skinner used to be a no-nonsense cop, a bit shy, but very likeable. Over the past few books his character seems to have changed. There;s more sex, definitely more bad language (why do authors think this enhances the read?) and a very changed personality. Skinner now thinks nothing of beating the baddies to a pulp, something he never did before. No, I think Skinner should be retired to his home in Spain before the readers stop buying the books altogether. Rebus bowed out gracefully and I think Quintin Jardine should help Skinner do the same.
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on 13 August 2016
When I first looked at this book I was unsure about whether to purchase, however I'm glad I did because its a good story well written book with a cliff hanging ending. I can only wander though if the cliff hanger was a plot by the author and the publisher to help sell the next book in this series as its probably the only way of discovering whom the final victim is.
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on 24 December 2014
Unfortunately the unexpectedly abrupt ending spoiled this for me. I have previously only read the excellent Primaveira series by this author and found this Bob Skinner novel to be somewhat lacking in characterization and suspense. Not for me.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 January 2014
As a Skinner reader I felt the last few novels (except Grievous Angel) went off the boil and were rather lacklustre but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I don't normally enjoy first person narrative but I thought this method of alternate viewpoints was really intimate and brought the reader much closer to the characters and the action. It also allows us, the reader, to see the same events from different points of view which 3rd person narrative cannot always do and it is a measure of Mr Jardine's skill that the characters are consistent so we see them and their standpoints from various angles. I think this is a fantastic change in approach and I wholeheartedly approve of it but I don't think I would want to see it in every book because it means, necessarily, that the plot takes a backseat to domestic issues. I can see why some new readers disliked this book. The plot itself is rather slim - the identification of a body, dead of natural causes and the investigation of a dirty cop but has a cliffhanger ending so I'm glad I can move straight on to Pray For The Dying to find out what happens.
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on 9 May 2014
As another reviewer mentioned, the big problem with reading Quintin Jardine's books is that you never want them to end. Yes, they are that good. I have read every Bob Skinner book and every Blackstone book..why did he kill off Oz so soon?..and every single one has been a brilliant read. This one is no exception. Written in a somewhat different format, it still features all the favourite characters.
I'm now into the sequel, Prayer for the Dying, and, as always, just wish it would last me for weeks instead of the days that a Skinner story usually lasts.
To anyone who has yet to discover this author, I can tell you that Quintin Jardine sits comfortably alongside Ian Rankin at the very top of the crime fiction ladder. If you're just about to start your Jardine journey I say...lucky you. You've got close on 30 totally brilliant novels ahead of you.
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on 3 July 2012
I have read all of Skinners adventures and have also brain washed 4 friends into reading them. I love the series and how its basically a soap opera. You do feel for the characters if they die/marry/have kids etc.

The storyline has the usual story arcs and crossovers you come to expect, and as usual engaging. But what made it great was how Mr Jardine had one chapter describing a scene from one persons outlook then the next chapter picked up from someone else's take on the same situation, it was really clever. Each chapter is also written in the style of the character, whether Skinner, Alex, Maggie etc so each had a personal touch to the personalities you have read throughout the series.

There have been many comments on the cliff hanger, but there have been cliff hangers before involving Andy, Maggie, Alex etc so it is nothing new. It has certainly not detracted me into not buying the next one, I loved the end, and I cant wait for the next novel.
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on 26 January 2016
Have read all the "Skinner" novels in order and have thoroughly enjoyed them. However I struggled with this one. There was so much explanation of the background of so many of the characters that I found it becoming tedious. Shame, because this is the first bad experience of the Skinner series. Normally the plot is clear and the book has pace. Sorry, but for me this missed the target, it was a bit predictable and I had to force myself through to what was clearly going to be the dramatic climax. .
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