Guilt Edged by Leigh Russell – Review
By Sandra Callard
Some books come your way and simply do not take long to read. Guilt Edged is a typical police procedural featuring top cop, Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel, and is based on a puzzling case of two murders committed for no apparent reason. We are given the privilege of knowing from the word go who the murderer is, or rather knowing what his name is, and then having to suffer the slow and persistent view of the police that someone else is responsible. The only person who does not agree with this is Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel who, of course, is eventually the hero of the hour.
Now, I feel that Geraldine is a good character. I like her and her feelings of intuition that nobody else seems to grasp. Sadly though, it does make the rest of the police team, including her detective boyfriend, Ian, and her boss Eileen, seem somewhat unobservant and pathetic. This theme is a worrying thread throughout the book, as Geraldine does her own thing, picks up various clues, and is constantly berated for it. Can they not see she is the only one taking this thing seriously and coming up with anything like a possible scenario? There is, unfortunately, no tension or excitement to this story. It is predictable and plodding, and could leave the reader with a slight sense of underwhelm on completion of the book.
I am aware that Leigh Russell is a prolific author, and indeed seller, of many crime novels and must, therefore, have a large following, but this really is a crime novel by numbers.
I have absorbed many crime novels that have made my heartbeat jump, my mouth fall open and indeed my eyes sprout tears, and I will happily read more, but I cannot abide a mundane plot and a feeling that I will know the end of the story before I finish it, and find that I am right. It is a huge disappointment to any reader.
The police station in Guilt Edged is based in York, a beautiful place which is given no other mention throughout the book. There is a sprinkling of street names, one or two even sounded familiar, which was good, but nothing more telling. The geography of the place where a murder happens adds such a strong image to the reader that they will suffer without it. This book could have been based in almost any place in Britain and the author has missed a trick by this omission.
There were some good opportunities missed in the relationship between Geraldine and Ian. They loved each other but are constantly at cross purposes, not with serious things, but small things that can escalate if not tackled. A couple of detectives who are also a couple in real life is rare in literature and could become gripping if expanded upon in a further book.
‘Guilt Edged’ by Leigh Russell is published by Oldcastle, £9.99 paperback