Welcome to North Norfolk, as in East Anglia, not that other Norfolk in America. Anybody who knows the area knows it was made for a murder mystery, wide open spaces, mysterious inlets, small villages and a sense that underneath the summer influx of holidaymakers, very little has changed for years and that the locals exist on farming, fishing and smuggling (though of course, to be fair to the good people of Norfolk, very few of them do any smuggling these days). Before we get onto the review, as an aside, did you know that HMS Beagle, the ship which took Darwin to South America, ended up on anti smuggling duties in East Anglia? Well you do now.
So, to move onto the book. I bought it blind. Sitting there one day I thought I’d trawl for a lesbian detective novel I’d not read, found it, downloaded it (sometimes, for all we love paper here at the PMDA, Kindle is wonderful) and read it. For a start, it was quite nice to read one set in somewhere familiar, with ideas and attitudes which weren’t totally different. Grow up in the UK, grow up on TV police procedurals and Collide-O-Scope is totally familiar territory. Rural coppers, small town murder, cast of locals; not original in theory but always good fun.
Detective Kate Brannon is newly promoted to the area. Though moving to King’s Lynn from Norwich ("A Fine City") isn’t exactly striding out into parts foreign, you can do it in about an hour if the sugar beet lorries aren’t too dense on the roads. She’s called out to the body of a murder victim found on the beach, alone apart from her dog Merlin: important note and totally justifiable plot spoiler, nothing bad happens to the dog at any point in the story! Her superior officer is called out to a double murder elsewhere leaving Kate to manage the case.
Obviously, apart from the bit about the dog being okay, I’m not going to give away too much of the plot as that’s going to ruin the fun. If you can’t work out a) who the romantic interest is fairly early on and b) where that is heading then clearly this is your first lesbian detective novel! But then again, sometimes you want a detective novel that’s like sinking into a warm bath or onto a family sofa. You want to enjoy the characters and watch the story unfold, and Collide-O-Scope delivers in a big way. The author writes well, and you really get a sense of the East Anglian location and people, if you’ve ever been to Norfolk then you’ll recognise a lot.
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