Book Review: Murder in the Valleys by Pippa McCathie

I picked this up because I quite like a murder mystery, and I was quite interested to read one set in Wales. The plot follows Fabia Havard, an ex-detective who left the force under a cloud and now works as an artist.

mccathie valleys

However, she’s drawn back into crime and intrigue when she discovers the body of a young woman who has been killed in her small Welsh town. It’s harder for Fabia because the victim is someone she knows, and the officer in charge of the investigation is a former colleague she used to be friends with before they fell out, torn apart by secrets to do with her resignation.

The book jumps between Fabia, who can’t resist getting involved and her old friend, Matt Lambert, who’s investigation proceeds. There are a few suspects in the running, and plenty of secrets to uncover.

The plot is engaging enough, and McCathie does well in slowly revealing the reasons for Fabia leaving the force, even though some of the problems between Matt and Fabia could easily have been sorted out a lot earlier if they just talked. There are reasons why they don’t but it’s all somewhat flimsy and doesn’t hold up to much scrutiny. And even at the end the characters lack depth, with the writer telling us rather than showing us a bit too much.

The murder plot unfolds in a better way, with plenty of suspects and fleshed out backstories. I kind of twigged who the killer was, but not until a good portion of the way into the book, and until then there were a couple of people I was leaning towards. There are a few plot points which are easy to see coming, but McCathie keeps just enough mystery to not make it too obvious.

The writing is a bit flat in places, and the climax feels a little rushed and a bit too neat. But it passes the time well enough, it’s sort of the literary equivalent of Midsomer Murders or similar shows, a bit formulaic and unexceptional, but not entirely unsatisfying.

Verdict: 6/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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