Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Murder in Thrall by Anne Cleeland

Murder in Thrall

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Kensington; Reprint edition ()
ISBN-13: 978-0758287922
Kindle: 1088 KB
Publisher: Kensington; Reprint edition (July 1, 2014)

Available on Amazon

Idée fixe

I mentioned yesterday that I had read Anne Cleeland's books before, so I thought I'd do a quick review based on what I remember. From the blurb:
An Irish redhead of humble beginnings and modest means, Kathleen Doyle is the antithesis of Chief Inspector Michael Sinclair, Lord Acton, the brilliant but enigmatic lord with a knack for solving London's most high profile homicides. When a horse trainer is found dead at a racetrack, the duo's investigation does little to deter the killer at large. Jeopardizing the case are their colleagues at CID headquarters, whose nosing into the nature of Doyle and Acton's after hours relationship threatens to lay bare the most classified information of all. As the murders pile up, Doyle and Acton uncover something far more sinisiter than they could have imagined. Now that they know too much, their partnership could be very brief indeed. . .
This is the first book in a series about Acton & Doyle, a pair of Scotland Yard detectives. Most of the story is from the point of view of Detective Constable Kathleen Doyle. She is young, Irish, lower-class, and has an unusual gift - she can sense when someone is lying. Obviously this is a great advantage to an investigator. It is also an isolating gift, as one might expect.
(From this point on there may be some minor spoilers.)

Her boss, and partner in this particular murder investigation, is Chief Inspector Lord Acton, who is brilliant, reclusive, somewhat anti-social, rich and handsome. But don't roll your eyes, as Lord Acton also has a secret vice - he is an obsessive stalker. He knows it's a violation, he knows it's wrong, he tries to control it, but basically he always ends up obsessively spying on whoever is his current object of attention. And that object is Doyle. He is secretly obsessed by her.

It's a disturbing thing, specially in a protagonist, and some readers will be repelled by the idea, specially when Acton and Doyle begin an odd and stilted romance. So, yes, really gets into some dark territory, psychologically. But it doesn't revel in darkness, it's more thoughtful than that.

Murder in Thrall is a well-written page-turner, and the unusual main characters will linger in your mind. I know I spent a couple of days after reading it debating the character's choices in my head. I hesitate to call it a clean romance because of Acton's issues, but it is not explicit - there are a couple of sex scenes that fade to black. I did like this book a lot in the end, and got the next book as soon as I could.

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