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The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths by…

The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths (2014)

by Harry Bingham

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    The Likeness by Tana French (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Two gripping mystery stories about a police officer working undercover.

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The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths is the 4th entry in Harry Bingham’s police procedural series featuring Detective Fiona Griffiths. In this outing Fiona goes undercover trying to expose a high level computer scam that is in the process of siphoning off millions from various companies and is also leaving behind a number of dead bodies.

It’s the excellently developed characters that make this story special and unique. In particular it is Fiona herself who holds the reader’s attention and although the story is told from her perspective, we don’t always perceive or understand her mindset. Fiona is still suffering the after-effects of a mental illness called Cotard’s Syndrome and she has difficulty understanding the nuances and complexities of human conversation and interactions. Developing a new personality for her undercover work is particularly dangerous for her as she begins to have trouble separating her new self from her old and this escalates to an even higher level when a third identity is needed. This brave and feisty character is fascinating and ever changing. The other character that stood out for me was Vic, who at times is threatening and scary while at others shows a caring humanity.

The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths is an excellent addition to this series, the intricate plot is clever and explained in easily understood ways, the writing helps to set the rapid fire pace and although Fiona throws herself into dangerous situations without fully thinking about consequences, the author keeps the story plausible and leaves the reader eager for more. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Mar 19, 2019 |
The third book in a police procedural series featuring one of the most unusual detectives I've come cross: Fiona Griffiths was stricken in adolescence with Cotard's Syndrome, a belief that she was already dead or did not exist. She's somewhat recovered but still struggles to make connections with her own feelings and with the "regular humans" who surround her. In some ways, her illness makes her an ideal candidate for undercover police work, infiltrating a white-collar fraud that is larger than anyone suspects. It's jarring but evocative when as the first-person narrator, Fiona casually refers to herself as "we" while undercover, blurring the line between Fiona Griffiths and her alter-ego, Fiona Grey, who in many ways is a more comfortable persona for her. Beyond the interest of the characters, the plot here is also first-rate and kept me turning pages to see how it would all end up. Ongoing storylines involving Fiona's father and her boyfriend also get a jolt. ( )
  rosalita | Jun 15, 2018 |
Warning: this review contains spoilers


The life of an undercover cop is dangerous: isolation from family and friends, stress from having to maintain your "legend", and severe consequences if you blow your cover. Fiona Griffiths, never one to resist a challenge, takes a course on how to be an undercover cop and passes with flying colours. Next comes an opportunity to put her skills into practice: a payroll fraud scheme with national and international implications. Can she get the goods, crack the case, and above all, maintain her sense of self? Sometimes it's difficult to figure out who she is as Fiona Griffiths. Will her legend take over her life?

This was a nail-biter of a book, especially because the reader is in Fiona's head as she inserts herself ever deeper into the scheme to get the information her colleagues need. She possesses great reserves of determination and grit, going deeper and risking more than she probably should, but you can't help but admire her for it.

Fiona also wrestles with questions of identity and the self: she already difficulty naming her emotions and feeling things, and with another identity to maintain on top of her own, there is the risk that she might become subsumed into that identity and lose touch with Fiona Griffiths. Watching her interact with "Fiona Grey" as another person is an interesting exercise. Most people have multiple versions of themselves inside them; however, most of us don't need to bring them to life as a cover story for an undercover operation.

Some more romantic readers may be disappointed to see that Fiona breaks up with Buzz, but it is a sign of how much she's learned about herself, and how strong she has become, that she is able to make this decision. (Confession: I was a bit teary during the scene where she breaks up with him.)

I've immediately requested the next book in the series, which very few series make me do. Another job well done by Harry Bingham. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Jun 15, 2017 |
This is not really a review, more of a directive: read this series!! If you like murder mysteries and detectives who are a bit off the beaten path, then this is the book for you. Fiona, a quirky individual, goes undercover in this, the third in the series. Fi has some of her own identity issues, so having to navigate who she is and who she is supposed to be and remembering the difference was fascinating. Several of the regular characters have smallish parts, but it didn't dampen my love for this book. I don't want to say much more or give anything away. Just know that this is my favorite one so far! ( )
  Berly | Jun 10, 2017 |
Fiona Griffiths goes undercover and becomes Fiona Grey, a payroll clerk. The writing of the way she handles multiple personas is excellent and the story intriguing... there is a little more unravelling of her own story in the mix. The big selling point for me is the observational detail about daily tasks and motivations... steps in belonging to Planet Normal... ( )
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
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"Das Universum ist voll wundersamer Dinge, die geduldig darauf warten, dass sich unsere Sinne schärfen." - Eden Phillpotts, A Shadow Passes
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Ich mag den Polizeidienst. Die Regeln, die Strukturen. Und dass wir -- jedenfalls meistens -- auf der Seite des kleinen Mannes stehen.
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When DC Fiona Griffiths says 'yes' to her policeman boyfriend, it's an affirmation that she wants finally to put her psychological breakdown behind her. But she still can't resist the challenge of an undercover policing course, and finding it remarkably easy to assume a new identity, she comes top of the class. So when an ingenious payroll fraud starts to look like the tip of a huge criminal iceberg, she is selected to infiltrate the fraudsters' operation. Posing as a meek former payroll clerk now forced to work as a cleaner, she becomes Fiona Grey, hoping the criminals will try and recruit her - knowing that if they discover her real identity, she's dead meat.… (more)

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