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Dark Side by Margaret Duffy
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This is the latest instalment in the long running Ingrid Langley/Patrick Gillard series. They have an interesting history, professionally & personally. After careers in MI5, Patrick now works for SOCA and Ingrid periodically helps out, when not writing her latest mystery novel. Add 5 children & this couple share a busy life.
The story opens with a bang...literally. They're having dinner with Michael Greenway, Patrick's boss, when shots ring out & they're suddenly covered with flying glass, furniture & people. They've all made enemies over the years & it's not immediately clear who the intended target was.
Back in Somerset, Ingrid & Patrick get some bad news from James Garrick, a local DCI in Bath. A sleazy excon named Benny Cooper is out of prison. He used to write a gossip column taking potshots at the local cops, Carrick in particular. But Carrick had the last laugh, putting away Cooper & his buddy Paul Mallory after uncovering their porn business. Cooper has returned to the area, resumed his column & is now a PI. Mallory is still around & there are rumours they're involved with a mysterious gangster who goes by the name of Raptor. It seems he's no longer content to confine his business to London & is looking to expand.
Before he went away, Cooper was responsible for an assault on Carrick's then girlfriend (now wife). Their mutual loathing continues as Cooper starts to become a nuisance, first harassing Carrick & his family before targeting Ingrid. This is personal.
Patrick has some vacation time left & soon he and Ingrid are assisting Carrick, digging into Cooper's life & going undercover.
This is book #16 so obviously the series has a solid fan base. But for me, it was just ok. I love a good police procedural & many of the books I've enjoyed the most have featured various levels of British law enforcement. Authors such as Val McDermid, Stuart MacBride, William McIlvanney, Mark Billingham & Ian Rankin are personal favourites.
After reading the promotional blurb for this book I was immediately interested. However, while this is a police procedural, I would also classify it as a "cozy" type of mystery, a genre I typically avoid as I prefer a grittier read. It's very clean (no sex, swearing, etc.) with lots of polite, reserved chat between the characters. There is action at the end but for most of the book it occurs off page & we learn of events as the characters discuss it after the fact.
Unfortunately, this keeps the reader removed from any real tension or excitement. As for the characters, I'd have to say my favourite was Carrick, despite this being a Langley/ Gillard novel. He's an intense guy & we feel his frustration while he tries to get the goods on Cooper.
As for Ingrid & Patrick, I found them oddly flat. They are a couple as well colleagues but their conversations are mostly serious & work related in nature. Patrick comes across as cool, contained & always on the job, even when at home & I never felt a spark between them. Some witty dialogue or moments of comic relief would have helped make up for the lack of suspense or mystery.
It's hard to put my finger on what was missing but I guess it's just a matter of taste. I kept waiting for the moment when the plot would take off & I'd get hooked, becoming invested in the characters & their circumstances but found it slow moving & almost bland. The main protagonists have led intriguing lives & I wanted some of that excitement & passion to seep into their personalities & private life.
I really feel like I missed something as this is obviously a popular series & it's not like it's badly written so I guess it's just a matter of personal preference. After perusing the author's website & other books, I see the novels follow a general pattern so if you've read previous ones & enjoyed them, no doubt you'll like this as well.
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  RowingRabbit | Sep 14, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0727883402, Hardcover)

When several shots are fired into the bistro where husband and wife crime-fighting duo Patrick Gillard and Ingrid Langley, both of whom work for the Serious Organised Crime Agency, are meeting their boss, they discuss the shooting with their friend, Detective Chief Inspector James Carrick. Carrick was also personally attacked, several years previously, by Benny Cooper, who was eventually convicted of involvement in child pornography.

Benny and his accomplice are now out of prison, and soon the intimidation of Carrick and his family returns. When Cooper is found murdered, Carrick's bloodstained clothing, when he is found unconscious at the murder scene, makes him a prime suspect. Ingrid and Patrick take up the case, plunging themselves and their careers into grave danger. But how far is Patrick prepared to go in order to prove James’ innocence?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:13 -0400)

When several shots are fired into the bistro where husband and wife crime-fighting duo Patrick Gillard and Ingrid Langley, both of whom work for the Serious Organised Crime Agency, are meeting their boss, they discuss the shooting with their friend, Detective Chief Inspector James Carrick. Carrick was also personally attacked, several years previously, by Benny Cooper, who was eventually convicted of involvement in child pornography. Benny and his accomplice are now out of prison, and soon the intimidation of Carrick and his family returns. When Cooper is found murdered, Carrick's bloodstained clothing, when he is found unconscious at the murder scene, makes him a prime suspect. Ingrid and Patrick take up the case, plunging themselves and their careers into grave danger. But how far is Patrick prepared to go in order to prove James' innocence?… (more)

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