reviewed by Gail Byrd
Has DI Clare MacKay conquered her tendency to be a workaholic? The latest book by Marion Todd, Next in Line, opens with her at a wedding with her new love interest, DCI Alistair Gibson. Ah, no, it’s the wedding of Clare’s ex, and more or less a command performance.
Still, she is managing some light conversation with another couple at the table until she gets a phone call advising her of a newly discovered body. To the surprise of no one, least of all Alistair, Clare wants to immediately rush back to St. Andrews. The only thing that stops her is his reminding her they’ve both had a few glasses of wine and are most likely over the limit. At least it gives her an excuse to bail on the remaining festivities and the next day she is off and running.
This is the fifth book in the series, and may be the best one yet. The story is excellent, with twists and turns that keep the reader on their toes as they try to figure out where the story is going. No worries, Clare and her team are taking those twists and turns at the same time, and they have the advantage of being a crack investigative team. Fortunately, the reader gets the opportunity the follow along with the investigation and learning facts at the same time as Clare and her team.
Being familiar with Todd’s other books in the series, her excellent writing style feels more like a welcome home and the reader is immediately drawn into the world of DI MacKay. This current case is the murder of a man who was celebrating his birthday with three friends from his school days at an exclusive lodge near the grounds of a posh hotel. As the case unfolds Clare learns his sister is a TV personality and happens to be the woman she met at the wedding reception. The story quickly moves into the solid police work being done by Clare and her team as they investigate leads, follow hunches, and roll with the unexpected twists and turns the case takes as they proceed.
The pace is excellent and the story so engaging it pulls the reader through. As the chapters are short, it’s easy to read “just one more chapter” than to put the book down, and before you know it you’ve read another hour or so. There are some recurring characters beyond DCI Gibson who are part of Clare’s team and their stories and personalities are continuing from previous books. The case they are trying to solve is completely contained within this book. So, if you are a series reader, this is a series I would recommend reading from beginning, reading them in order, as the characters develop and grow as the series continues. However, if you are just interested in a well-written mystery that is engaging in and of itself, there is no need to read the previous books in the series as the main story is easily understood without in-depth knowledge of their personal story.
However you decide to enjoy Marion Todd’s book, be assured enjoy is the operative word. Todd’s writing style is comfortable, concise and offers an excellent balance between character development and case information. As you follow along with Clare, figuring out the best way to interpret the information she receives, the twists and turns may offer moments of reordering your thoughts. Also, like Clare, you won’t have much time to contemplate these as you will be moving toward the next step in the investigation.
Next in Line is an excellent example of a police procedural where things move on a logical path, there is a sense of urgency because that’s what law enforcement feels when they are trying to solve a case, and dangerous situations are logical instead of contrived. There is just enough personal story for Clare as well as a few others in her precinct to create an interesting world filled with people you either would like to get to know or, at the very least, want working your case if you ever found yourself in need of their services.
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