Thursday, August 3, 2017

“Dead on Your Feet” by Stephen Puleston

Detective Inspector (DI) Ian Drake of the Wales Police Service in Caernaffon in North Wales is called to investigate a murder. His regular detective sergeant is on maternity leave, so he has DS Sara Morgan accompany him. The body of a woman has been found in an unoccupied storefront – and found by people passing by when the store’s curtain opened. Her murder has been staged – and what the detectives come to realize is that the scene imitates a well-known contemporary artwork.

The dead woman is a gallery owner and curator for an upcoming local art exhibition. As they investigate, Drake and Morgan discover that a number of people were upset that their work had been excluded from the exhibition, but most seem to have alibis. And then the murder scene goes live, and viral, on YouTube and Twitter. The detectives are dealing with a very sick mind.

And then there’s a second murder, and while it looks different form the first, Drake believes there’s a connection.

Dead on Your Feet is the fourth DI Ian Drake novel by author Stephen Puleston, who has this series and three novels in the DI John Marco series (both detectives work for the Wales Police Force, Drake in North Wales and Marco in South Wales). Drake is separated from his wife, living apart from her and their two young daughters. The separation is about work and the excessive amount of time Drake devotes to it, but the detective is also getting counseling for his obsession with order, cleanliness, and neatness.

Stephen Puleston
But it is that mania for order that drives the man to restore the balance in his world, and it may be the reason he’s such a good detective, doing his job well in spite of the constant police politics. And during this investigation, he learns he has a half-brother who’s 10 years older, the result of his father having a something of a fling when he was 18. The problem is that the half-brother is one of the murder suspects.

Dead on Your Feet is a fast-paced police procedural mystery, and exactly the kind of good, entertaining story we’ve come to expect from Puleston.


Top photograph: The Dinner Party, oil on canvas by Judy Chicago. The painting plays a significant role in Dead on Your Feet.

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