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Talking to the Dead: A Novel by Harry…

Talking to the Dead: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Harry Bingham

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2131854,782 (3.76)18
Title:Talking to the Dead: A Novel
Authors:Harry Bingham
Info:Delacorte Press (2012), Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, mystery, Wales, detectives, murder, prostitution

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Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham



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Detective Fiona Griffiths has trauma in her past and inner demons she battles with on a daily basis. Her social ineptness combined with her maverick nature provides much opportunity for her to get herself into sticky situations. This book is the story of Fiona's first murder case. She is drawn in by the murders of Janet, a part-time prostitute, and her six year old daughter April. Fiona is convinced that Janet and April were in hiding at the time they died, but what were they hiding from? It would be a more mundane case except a bank card bearing the name of a wealthy businessman is found with the body. Unfortunately, that man is also dead.

We know from the very beginning that there is something rather odd about Fiona Griffiths. More than anything she wants to be accepted in "Planet Normal". Obviously there is a gimmick to this book. Fiona has something psychologically off kilter, and we don't learn what it is for quite a while. I thought the author did a great job building up the tension until it's revealed.

The book is well written and Fiona is very interesting. I enjoyed spending some time in Wales too. I would definitely give the next book in the series a try. ( )
  Olivermagnus | Jan 17, 2016 |
I wasn't sure at first if I could relate to the strange character of Fiona Griffiths or care about solving the mystery of the murders. However, I stuck with it and soon began to care very much as I got to know Fiona and it became evident how much she cared and acted to make a difference in the lives of women on the fringes of society and trapped in a life they didn't necessarily choose. It was interesting to learn about the very strange Cotard's syndrome, and I'm very much looking forward to the next book in the series. ( )
  Scrabblenut | Jun 2, 2015 |
3 1/2 stars because it made me laugh, not sure if it came across as witty because i was listening to it (would it have struck me the same way if I was reading the words?) but it did make me chuckle more than a few times. Loved hearing the Welsh names pronounced as well, goodness knows I can't pronounce them when I see them in print. ( )
  Mooose | May 16, 2015 |
We know from the very beginning that there is something rather odd about Fiona Griffiths. More than anything she wants to be accepted in "Planet Normal". Part of our job as a reader is to unravel why that is not happening. Fiona gets a better understanding of herself when she is told by a friend that she has post traumatic stress disorder, but she can't work out what has triggered this.

We know that Fiona lost about two years of her life at the end of her schooling. Eventually we learn that Fiona was diagnosed at that time with a particular disorder. Is it Asberger's or something else?

But all this is not to say that Fiona Griffiths is not a valuable detective: as those who are in charge of her know, she needs careful management, but she has insights that no-one else seems capable of. And she tends not to do things by the book, to think outside the square, to act without thinking too much about the danger to herself.

This book is the story of Fiona's first murder case: she is drawn in by the murders of Janet, a part-time prostitute, and her six year old daughter April. She is convinced that Janet and April were in hiding at the time they died, but what were they hiding from? Is the credit card of a dead millionaire that Janet has in her possession a vital clue? ( )
  smik | Apr 24, 2015 |
I’m not normally a huge fan of the crime novel in which the detective (be they professional or amateur) is so much a part of the story as to make the crimes – and more importantly the victims – fade into insignificance. But Fiona (Fi) Griffiths offers an engaging and unique voice amongst crime solvers and although TALKING TO THE DEAD really was her story more than it was the story of any of its victims the book didn’t have the same egotism that the more traditional of these kinds of stories suffer from. A combination of Fi’s self-deprecating sense of humour and her genuine feeling for the victims she comes across sets her apart.

As the book opens Fiona is engaged in what I imagine is the fairly realistic, if unexciting, police work of trawling through the paperwork connected with an embezzlement case. However her colleagues are soon working on a major case – the death of a woman, possibly a prostitute, and her six year old daughter. Fiona wangles herself onto that case in the first of what becomes a series of unorthodox activities.

Although I don’t think it’s always true that you have to like a character to enjoy a book I do think that in this case the reader would have to at least appreciate Fiona’s personality, especially as the story is told in a first-person narrative. Happily for me I rather adored her. She is in her mid 20’s, has a philosophy degree from Cambridge and is a relatively new Detective Constable. Although her father has a somewhat shady past she is the product of a loving family but a period of significant illness in her teens has left its mark so that the growing into an adult skin that we all have to do has some particular challenges for Fiona. All of this makes her fascinating but it was her humour and her grand gestures on behalf of victims that made me love her.

Although a bit of judicious editing could have simplified and shortened TALKING TO THE DEAD without taking away any key elements it is, overall, a cracker of a yarn as well as an engaging character study. Aside from the slightly over-the-top ending, the bulk of the policing has a ring of credibility about it with dead ends and boring slog being just as crucial as the dramatic moments. We also meet Fiona’s family and one or two of her friends so there’s always something going on.

I can’t remember whose review it was that prompted me to buy this book more than two years ago but I’m glad I plucked it from the TBR pile and will definitely be seeking out the second book of the series as I am intrigued to see what happens next to Fiona, who reminded me a little of one of my other favourite crime solving heroines, Ruth Galloway.
  bsquaredinoz | Mar 8, 2015 |
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Rookie cop Fiona Griffiths, on the cusp of breaking her first big case, uncovers a dire conspiracy that takes her into a dark underworld that threatens her with her own personal demons.

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