Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Patient Fury: Sarah Ward

Detective Inspector Francis Sadler gets a call to come to the site of a burning house, which indicates that there is a suspicious death related to the fire. He calls Detective Constable Connie Childs, recently back from extended sick leave, to join him. Later it is determined that there are three dead bodies, a father, mother, and young son; the evidence indicates that the mother killed her husband and son, and then herself.


This is the third DC Childs mystery, written by Sarah Ward.  The series is set in the Derbyshire Peak District where the author lives. I have been a fan of the series since it started and this book did not disappoint.

Connie has a history of disagreeing with the general consensus of how a crime investigation should be handled, and she doesn't mind striking out on her own to investigate. This has put her at odds with her boss and coworkers before (and, as a reader, irritates me a bit).

In this case, Connie really breaks with the group. She doesn't follow orders, she doesn't follow up on leads she has been assigned, and she does investigate areas that she has been told are off limits. It was hard to understand why she went to these lengths, but also hard to understand why others in the group were not interested in following up all avenues. This book explores the psychological burdens that police officers of all ranks bear and how it affects their work.

Other members of the police and support staff are present again in this book: Superintendent Llewellyn, pathologist Bill Shields and his assistant Scott. Detective Sergeant Damian Palmer has a lesser role in this book, and DS Carole Mathews is added to the team.

Sarah Ward's books all concentrate to some extent on families and their bonds and relationships. This book delves into the secrets and pains of Julia and George Winson, the adult children of the man who was murdered in the fire. Complicating the situation is a past incident in their family; their mother disappeared 40 years earlier. There are brief flashbacks to events in the family's past throughout the book.

The characterization is superb and the story is riveting; I stayed up way later than I should have to finish the book. The book was a bit darker than I expected, and I was very unprepared for the ending. Yet I think this could be the best book in the series so far.

Can this be read as a standalone? I would say yes. Having read the previous books, In Bitter Chill and A Deadly Thaw, I was familiar with the continuing characters up to a point, but having to wait a year to read the next book, a lot has been forgotten. The author provides enough background to keep the reader informed without reading the earlier books and there is definitely nothing spoiled in previous books if you read this one first. However, this is a great series to read in order to see the development and the motivations of the characters.


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Publisher:   Faber & Faber, 2017
Length:       392 pages
Series:        DC Childs #3
Format:       Hardcover
Setting:       Derbyshire, UK
Genre:        Police procedural
Source:      I purchased my copy.


14 comments:

  1. Some writers really come out swinging, don't they.

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    1. They do, Patti. The quality has stayed very high in Sarah Ward's books.

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  2. So glad to hear you enjoyed this so well, Tracy! Sarah certainly is talented.

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    1. She is, Margot, and I like the way she combines the past and present stories.

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  3. Can’t wait to get to this one. She is a great writer. By the way she shared your blog post on her Facebook page!

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    1. I think you will like it when you get to it, Peggy. Thanks for letting me know about that, I don't use Facebook so I would not have known.

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  4. Ward is very good, isn't she? I'm saving it for Christmas :)

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    1. Yes, Sergio, she is. That will be a perfect time to read the book.

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  5. Awesome series - particularly loved this one though it is quite unsettling!

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    1. You are right, Aligorah, it was disturbing at times. But not too much for me, and I am usually a wimp.

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  6. Not tried any of this series, my preference for US fiction probably to blame. Maybe if I cross paths with one.

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    1. Col, it is funny (but understandable) that we both like to read books from outside of our own countries. But if you get a chance, you should try this series someday.

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  7. Looking forward to reading this one, I very much enjoyed the first two in the series. I am intrigued and slightly worried by your saying the end was dark and you were unprepared for it!

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    1. I reversed my opinions and hunches several times while reading this, Moira, and got very irritated with the main character, but in the end I do think it is the best one in the series so far.

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