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O'Connor, Ed - The Yeare's Midnight
Hardcover: 292 pages (Mar. 2002) Publisher: Constable & Robinson ISBN: 1841194263

In a town near Cambridge, a young sportswoman is found murdered, her head mutilated. Strange quotes are written on the wall in blood. Unknown to the police this is the first in a planned series of murders by psychopath Crowan Frayne. Frayne taunts the police by sending lines of John Donne poetry to a nearby Cambridge professor. She contacts the police and becomes involved in the case.

The head of the police team, Inspector John Underwood, is not so sane himself. His wife is having an affair and decides to leave him. Underwood in return invents a sighting of his wife's lover's car at the scene of the murder and brings him in for questioning. As Underwood goes increasingly off the rails it falls to DS Alison Dexter to head the investigation.

It is soon revealed that Frayne is choosing women who have the same name as friends and supporters of Donne three hundred years ago. Racing against time, it's up to Dexter to track down the next victim.

The story is told from multiple points of view, with the killer's in italics. It's quite well written and the characters well depicted even if some of their actions are unbelievable, including the final motive of the killer. The story begins very well and I had high hopes. It did turn out to be a compulsive read but perhaps not in the way the author intended. Littered with factual errors, it became a game to find the next one. I can't comment on the accuracy of the poetry interpretations however I do know that swallows will not be on overhead wires in December, African Violets are available at almost every shop these days, not just selected outlets and that their flowers do not smell, nor fall off intact but actually wither away. Lastly, in East Anglia a dyke would run between two fields and have water in it and wouldn't be a term for a lesbian. This author has potential if he gets his facts straight, otherwise he'll lose the reader.

Karen Meek, England
December 2003

Karen blogs at
Euro Crime.

last updated 23/03/2008 20:47