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Templeton, Aline - 'Dead in the Water'
Hardback: 384 pages (May 2009) Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton ISBN: 0340976942

DEAD IN THE WATER is a gentle crime novel featuring DI Marjory Fleming and is the fifth novel in this series. Marjory is asked to look into an old case, in which a young girl, Ailsa Grant, was found dead on the rocks, close to a lighthouse over 20 years ago. Tricky, because it was her father, also a policeman, who dealt with the case, and allowed the family to move the body before the crime scene was secured, on the basis that it was an obvious suicide. Did he make a mistake? Her current boss was also involved in the original case, and needs to be interviewed very sensitively. So, was it suicide? Ailsa had been pregnant at the time, but no-one seemed to know who the father was. Was it a local actor, Marcus, who plays a lead role in a TV programme about cops? Did the unwilling father push her to her death, as Ailsa's mother suspects? Or was it Ailsa's now deceased father, a bully at heart, and ashamed of his daughter's pregnancy?

DI Fleming is married to a farmer, and has two children, and the book contains some intriguing asides into her family life. At one point she faces the dilemma of whether she should stay to pursue a recent murder of a Polish immigrant, or fly out to France, where her son has just been involved in an accident. How will her decision affect her family? Moreover, somehow wrapped up in the old mystery is a current day problem with Polish builders, who are linked to a couple who work on Marjory's husband's farm.

The novel is set in Scotland, and the language used conveys this well without being too obtrusive. The novel has an old-fashioned appeal about it, both in its morals, and again through the language used. For example, early on in the book, the author writes about an esteemed actress called Sylvia Lascelles, visiting Marcus, who thinks that Marcus's girlfriend is "a common little floozie" and not Marcus's type at all.

Gradually, Marjory works her way through the evidence, and interviews potential witnesses, with the advantage that people have been sitting on secrets for a long time, and those secrets are desperate to escape. She discovers what really happened to Ailsa, and a lot more besides. The book was paced well, the characters were believable, and the ending somewhat inevitable given what had gone before. I really enjoyed this book, and the character of Marjory Fleming, and will be looking forward to the next outing.

Michelle Peckham, England
September 2009

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 20/09/2009 14:33