Thursday, June 30, 2016

Stephen Puleston’s “Against the Tide”

Ed Mostyn lives on the large island of Anglesley (Ynys Mon in Welsh), off the northwest coast of Wales. The distance to Wales is short enough for a bridge, and most mornings will find Ed near the bridge digging for worms in the beach sand to sell to fishermen. Early one morning, as he’s digging, he hears a sound and looks around.

Within a few hours, Ed’s body is found, a garden pitchfork jammed in his neck.

Detective Inspector (DI) Ian Drake of the Wales Police Service is called to investigate. He has his usual team, including Detective Sergeant Caren Waits. No murder is ever simple, and Ed Mostyn’s quickly turns out to be more complex than most, especially when the body of a young woman is found a few days later, not far from where Mostyn’s body was found.

Against the Tide is the third Ian Drake police procedural novel by Welsh writer Stephen Puleston (he also has three novels in the Inspector Marco series). It’s just as good as its predecessors Brass in Pocket and Worse Than Dead, and they were both good mysteries.

As in the previous novels, we see that DI Drake has a few idiosyncrasies. He has a borderline mania for cleanliness, and can often be found in the washroom, cleaning his hands. He has to begin each day with at least 10 minutes working the Sudoku puzzle in the newspaper. His desk has a precise arrangement of post-it notes, computer, and framed photographs, and he knows immediately if something has been moved, even ever so slightly. And he checks for dust.

Stephen Puleston
His “rituals,” as he and his counselor call them, have gotten worse since the death of his father. And the backdrop to this story is the deteriorating relationship with his wife, a physician.

The investigation becomes akin to peeling back an onion, with one layer removed only to have to deal with the next. Drake and Waits find themselves expanding the investigation back into the past, where the solution will ultimately be found.

Against the Tide is a satisfying, intriguing novel, and I’m looking forward to starting the Inspector Marco series.


Top photograph: Map of the Isle of Anglesley.

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