PublisherSevern House
Date Published31 May 2017
Price£ 20.99


by Margaret Duffy

Crime fighting duo Ingrid Langley and Patrick Gillard are hoping for a quieter life when he takes a desk job. But the discovery of a badly-beaten Met Police cop in a Somerset field puts paid to that.


It’s odd how you develop a soft spot for a series where you could spend a coffee break picking holes in the book. But I seem to be in for the long haul on Margaret Duffy’s series featuring writer Ingrid Langley and her loose cannon husband Patrick Gillard.

These are thrillers that put the q into quaint. They’re not particularly cosy, but they don’t fit neatly into action and adventure boxes. Duffy tends towards tell, not show, with the net result that the gory stuff happens off-stage. What she doesn’t shy away from, though, is the psychological aftermath of it all.

Patrick is a former soldier with an artificial leg. It doesn’t stop him mixing it with the villains, though. And as the long-running series has progressed, his psychological state has become more precarious and his behaviour more erratic.

Ingrid has acted as Patrick’s sidekick/minder and they’ve been involved with a veritable alphabet soup of crime-fighting agencies. Any hope, though, that Patrick’s new job as the NCA liaison officer with Avon and Somerset police’s regional organised crime unit is going to be a cushy desk posting is soon dashed when Ingrid stumbles across a top Met Police undercover cop who’s been left for dead in a Somerset field.

Suspicion points to London gangster Matt Dorney, one of the country’s most-wanted criminals. And when two more bodies are found in the same Somerset field, Patrick and Ingrid are pulled right back into a major undercover job.

The story, as always, is told from Ingrid’s point of view, and you’ll have to get past her rather arch tone, although I admit to thinking it adds a genuine voice to the narrative. As a character, she’s a rather bizarre mix of successful career woman (although I’ve never gained much of an impression of her writing over the series), absent mother (of course they have a live-in nanny for their brood), no-nonsense all-action star and an occasional purveyor of faintly sexist comments about the male/female divide. What’s certain, though, is that she pulls her husband out of the mire frequently.

The supporting cast contains a handful of recurring characters who balance the kamikaze pair, including long-suffering Bath cop DCI James Carrick and Patrick’s redoubtable mother Elspeth, who has to deal with both her unstable son and her rather unworldly vicar husband.

If I’ve counted right, is 20th in a series that’s been running since the late 1980s. If you haven’t read any of the books – and I suspect a lot of crime fiction fans won’t have done – the latest instalment probably won’t make a stack of sense. The plots teeter towards implausibility at times, but I read the series because I’m absolutely fascinated by the two unorthodox lead characters. ends on an OMG kind of cliff-hanger – Duffy is the queen of these – which has you hoping that the author doesn’t fall under a bus or lose her publishing deal.

Reviewed 18 August 2018 by Sharon Wheeler