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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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2562444,720 (3.77)54
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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Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham is the first book in his series featuring Detective Fiona Griffiths. This first case is an emotional one for Fiona, a mother and her young daughter murdered and left lying in the filth of a squalid low-rent drug house. The mother was known to have worked as a prostitute, but why anyone would have murdered her six year old is a mystery. Fiona feels a connection with the dead and she is sure that the little six year old is trying to tell her something.

As heinous as this case proved to be, my real interest lay with the main character. Fiona is a complex multi-layered individual. She doesn’t work well with rules, and has the reputation of being a maverick. The story is told from Fiona’s perspective and her unique voice lifts this book to a much higher level. There is a mystery about Fiona and why she is so different. She had an emotional breakdown in her late teens that cost her a couple of years of her life. She was able to overcome this, graduate from Cambridge University and find a position with the Cardiff police and works at appearing to be a citizen of “Planet Normal” but underneath we can see how vulnerable she is.

I found Talking to the Dead to be both a great story and an introduction to a fascinating new character. The author excels in slowly revealing the layers of both the mystery and his main character, and I look forward to reading more about the damaged, slightly weird yet very sympathetic Fiona Griffiths. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Feb 10, 2017 |
From Amazon: A young prostitute lies dead in a Cardiff squat. Her six-year-old lies dead beside her. It looks like an ordinary murder scene . . . except that a millionaire's platinum bank card lies among the debris. How did it come to be there? And is there more to this case than meets the eye? Investigating the case is rookie Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths - a new recruit with a reputation for being deadly smart, more than ordinarily committed . . . and unsettlingly odd. As she starts to follow up the clue left by that platinum bank card, she finds the disturbing hints that suggest a truly appalling crime has been committed - and release the demons of her own dark past. // end of Amazon Description

This is the first in the Fiona Griffiths series. I found it as compelling as the second book, which I read out of order and adored.

The murders are violent. As with any good mystery, the clues are few. Fiona is fearless and doesn’t do well at following rules. She also has an abnormal affinity for the dead, which seems rather shocking, frankly. She goes out on a limb several times as things start making sense to her, putting herself in danger. She introduces us to her friend Lev and we also get a hint at her Dad’s shady past and power.

Harry Bingham has written an intelligent and complex mystery. He has also written the story of a young woman trying to make her way in a world that she feels excludes her because of her ‘illness’. Nobody in the police force knows what her illness is, just that it claimed 2 years of her life. She then went to Cambridge, and then joined the police force. It was shocking to read what her illness was in the second book, so much part of who and what she is, and it is explained in painful detail in this book close to the end, with hints and foreshadowing throughout.

I'm already on to the third book. ( )
  karenmarie | Jan 27, 2017 |
I don't really read crime fiction. But I've been starting to wonder recently if the reason that I don't read crime fiction is merely because I'm not in the habit of reading crime fiction. After all Scandinoir is one of my favourite TV genres. So when Talking to the Dead was recommended to me as being set in my home patch of South Wales I thought I'd give it a go. And I did very much enjoy this story of Fiona Griffiths, an inexperienced detective constable in the Cardiff branch of the South Wales Police.

Fiona (or Fi), a Cambridge Philosophy graduate, is good at her job when she wants to be, but unexpectedly and unpredictably bad at others. Her colleagues perceive her as slightly 'odd', she doesn't drink or smoke and has an unexplained two year blank in her history that she won't talk about. And her father seems to have a slightly dodgy past as well. Certainly her superiors officers are a little doubtful, but when a prostitute and her young daughter are found dead in a run down area of Cardiff, with the daughter having been murdered in a particularly gruesome way, all available officers are called in to assist. Gradually Fiona becomes convinced of a connection between that case and a much more mundane one of embezellment that she is working on, but with nothing more than a hunch to go on how can she convince her superiors? But Fiona is never one to let a little thing like rules get in her way ...

This was an enjoyable read which kept me hooked until the end, and I liked the portrayal of South Wales. Fiona was an interesting character who will clearly develop in future books. But the character that I absolutely loved, suprisingly, was Fiona's father. I would never have thought that I could warm so much to a character whose business is running pole-dancing clubs, but I did absolutely. (I feel sure that I have been lulled into a false sense of security and he may turn out to be an axe murderer in future books but we will see). ( )
2 vote SandDune | Jan 20, 2017 |
So this is the book I mentioned when I said that Julia and Joe were discussing this series (over on Joe's thread, I am thinking), and it sounded good, so I looked up the first one on Amazon, only to realize that I already had it in the stacks. It was offered for free on Kindle back in November. It's a contemporary murder mystery set in Wales, and featuring Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths, a very unusual person who we will slowly discover has suffered a traumatic past. Fiona is smart and spunky and resourceful but does not follow directions well. She is outspoken and tends to think on her feet, not always to her best advantage. The writing here is good, and so is the pacing. For that I could put up with a few holes in the plot and a bit of unevenness with the storyline. I will definitely read the next one. ( )
1 vote Crazymamie | Jan 11, 2017 |
This is a really gripping, really moving book -- a fine novel as well as a terrific thriller. The central character, Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths, is a new recruit to the Cardiff police department, and there is something a little odd about Fiona. It's not that she's stupid (she is in fact very bright) and it's not that she doesn't work like a demon (when it suits her), it's just -- odd. Anyway, Fiona gets caught up in the investigation of the murder of a prostitute and the woman's six-year old daughter, which spirals into an enquiry involving big money, dirty cops, and really dirty -- and dangerous -- dealings. The story won't let go, and neither will the parallel plot, which tells us more and more about Fiona. I almost never give thrillers five stars, but this one merits it. The characters are compelling -- so compelling that you end up caring a lot about them. The writing is vivid and exciting. And the story is terrific. Read it an enjoy: I'm off to start number two ( )
  annbury | Jul 2, 2016 |
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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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