Thursday, January 9, 2020

DCI Brendan Moran: Novel and Short Stories

Detective Chief Inspector Brendan Moran of the Thames Valley Police is back, and once again it’s downright dangerous to be a police officer on his team.

Moran is called to the scene of one of his oddest investigations yet. The body of a young woman, a singer on the verge of stardom, is found in a cemetery. She’s been buried in a coffin, and there’s a recording of her voice, acknowledging but not exactly explaining her suicide. But the fact of being buried suggests she had assistance. 

As Moran and his team begin their investigation, they find boyfriends, parents, and associates stricken with grief. The pathologist’s report confirms death by asphyxiation, consistent with the burial. Analysis of the recording does not – it’s actually a very clever splicing together of different statements. A strange suicide investigation becomes an even stranger murder investigation.

Scott Hunter
Moran, himself still recovering from his experiences in Ireland (Silent as the Dead), takes charges when his chief subordinate is hospitalized for a physical ailment. Another officer is still recovering from almost being killed in a bomb plot. Two more have to dive for cover when a possible suspect, being escorted between them, is shot to death. 

The officers, possible suspects, and the investigation itself is dogged by a mysterious figure, the tall man in a hat and coat who has a distinctly unmemorable face. 

Gone Too Soon is the fifth Irish Detective story by British author Scott Hunter that stars Moran and his ever-changing and always threatened team. Like its predecessors, it tells a fascinating, sometimes gruesome story where nothing is ever as it seems, every character is rightfully considered a suspect, and the individual police officers themselves are subject to temptation and going off on their own.

Hunter has also published a collection of six short stories, A Crime for All Seasons, that also star Moran and his officers. The stories use the months of the year as titles, and this volume covers January through June (a second one is in the works, with stories covering the rest of the year). 

The stories are less intense than the nail-biting novels, and involve the missing wife of a local archaeologist; a member of Parliament who may, or may not, have been caught in an affair and has disappeared; a gun and a seed left at the scene of a crime; a young woman whose body is found in the lake of her estate; a novice missing from a convent; and a stakeout of an art gallery where a theft may be about to happen. We find generally calmer, gentler tales than the five novels, but they do offer a break from often absolute mayhem while including the familiar characters from the series.

The “Irish Detective” series includes Black DecemberCreatures of DustDeath Walks Behind YouA Crime for All SeasonsSilent as the Dead, and Gone Too Soon. Hunter has also published the novels The TrespassThe Ley Lines of LushburyLong Goodbyes, and The Serpent & the Slave, and the memoir Rattle and Drum.  In addition to writing fiction, Hunter is an IT consultant and musician. He lives with his family in England.


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