A Taste of Ashes

Written by Tony Black

Review written by Sara Townsend

Sara-Jayne Townsend is a published crime and horror writer and likes books in which someone dies horribly. She is founder and Chair Person of the T Party Writers’ Group. http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com/

A Taste of Ashes
Black & White Publishing
RRP: £7.99
Released: October 1, 2015
Pbk Original

Following the harrowing case that nearly finished him off, DI Bob Valentine returns to normal duties in the small Scottish town on Ayr.

He is called to deal with a murder – a man found face down on his kitchen table with a knife wound in his neck. The man’s partner and her daughter are missing, adding to the mystery. As DI Valentine investigates, the family’s history becomes ever murkier. Can he get to the bottom of this disturbing case?

This would be a fairly run of the mill Scottish police procedural – complete with psychologically dysfunctional copper – if not for a supernatural thread running through it, and one that feels somewhat out of place in the genre it claims to be. Since his near-death experience DI Valentine sees dead people. I also felt I was missing out on something by not having read the first book in the series. I suspect that in order to get a true handle on Valentine’s psychological state of mine, you need to start the series from the beginning.

Nevertheless, there’s much to like here: a gripping mystery, and some intriguing characters. Some of them are intensely annoying, but there are also some I cared enough about to want to know what happened to them: DS Sylvia McCormack, for instance, who would be an interesting enough character even without the misogyny she has to face in her working life, which made me sympathise with her all the more.

Straddling a line between a straight police procedural and a supernatural crime drama, reading this novel requires an open mind if you are used to non-supernatural crime thrillers. However, it’s an exciting and well-plotted story, and well worth taking a chance on.

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