Detective Inspector Hillary Greene of the Thames Valley Police is just trying to do her job, but everything keeps getting in the way. Like her boss, who likes to step in and take credit for her hard work. Or the now dead ex-husband, Ronnie, whose activities have made Hillary the target of an Internal Affairs investigation. Or the colleague in the office, Ronnie’s former partner, who looks for any opportunity to make trouble for her.
Hillary is also 40, wondering if age is catching up with her, hating having to live on a houseboat on a canal near Oxford, and watching a subordinate have a fling with her boss. A body turning up in a canal is almost a relief.
As Hillary and her team swing into action, they learn that nothing about this case is simple. No one liked the victim, a small-town hood known for a penchant for rape. Hints surface that a local crime boss, Luke Fletcher, might be involved, but pinning anything on him is next to impossible. Drugs might be a contributing factor. And every time Hillary seems to make progress, her boss or a colleague or the International Affairs investigators seem more than ready to step in.
Murder on the Oxford Canal is the first of the DI Hillary Greene mystery series by British author Faith Martin, and it’s a humdinger of a story. Martin uses a fast pace, constantly changing circumstances, and a desire by the reader to see Hillary to get one up on both the police scoundrels and the villains. She tells Hillary’s personal story, but uses it expertly to supplement the main narrative.
In addition to the DI Hillary Greene novels, Martin (a pen name for Jacquie Walton) has also published the Ryder and Loveday novels as well as the Jenny Sterling mysteries. Under the name Joyce Cato, she has published several non-series detective stories. Both Cato and Martin are also pen names for Walton. (Walton has another pen name as well – Maxine Barry, under which she wrote 14 romance novels.) A native of Oxford, she lives in a village in Oxfordshire.
I didn’t expect to like a Hillary Greene story as much as I have the Ryder and Loveday series, but I was pleasantly surprised. Murder on the Oxford Canal is a thoroughly enjoyable story.