Friday, April 01, 2011

Review: Lamb to the Slaughter by Aline Templeton (audio book)

Lamb to the Slaughter by Aline Templeton read by by Cathleen McCarron, Magna Story Sound, May 2010, 13 CDs, ISBN: 9781846527142)

When I reviewed the third book in the "big Marge" series by Aline Templeton, Lying Dead, I commented that I hoped for a swift appearance on audio book of the fourth instalment. Unfortunately it took two years for it to appear and then a few more months for me to get hold of it and listen to it.

This time round the events revolve around the small Galloway market town of Kirkluce, where DI Marjory Fleming and her team are based. Picking up a few months after Lying Dead, Marjory's right-hand man Tam MacNee is still off on sick-leave and she has to make do with the less experienced DSs Macdonald and Wilson and DCs Kerr and Campbell.

The book opens with the discovery of a dead sheep in the craft centre in Kirkluce. The matter is not deemed important and attention is focused on the possibility of a new large supermarket coming to the town. The craft centre will have to go and the local shop-keepers are worried, however the majority seem to be in favour of it. But the man who owns the land, which includes the craft centre, is Andrew Carmichael. It's not clear what he will do and before his decision is announced he is found shot on his doorstep.

There are many suspects, especially as both those pro- and against the supermarket project have a motive. Marjory and her team swing into action and Marjory gives strict instructions that Tam be kept out of it. However he has different ideas and proceeds to carry out his own investigation. Another strand in the book is the persecution of an elderly farmer, by the local youths (neds) who are riding round her property on motorbikes and she fears for her animals. The two threads meet quite early on in the book when there is another shooting. Is there a sniper loose in the area or is there a motive behind the seemingly unconnected killings?

As well as the police-work Marjory has her own family problems to cope with, not least the association of her fourteen-year-old-daughter with the neds.

Marjory and her team have their work cut out for them with many of the suspects lying and covering up for relatives. Only a final shooting makes it all clear, at least to Fleming who tries to see that justice is done.

Lamb to the Slaughter is a good entry in this series though it doesn't quite reach the same heady heights as the previous two. As before, the community where events take place, is well depicted for the reader and you feel you get to the place, though, aside from the police and their relatives, there seems to be few likeable inhabitants. For those used to England-set police procedurals, the differences in Scottish law will be of interest as will the Scottish words and phrases used by some of the characters. The whodunnit is, as usual with this series, impossible to guess or work-out and makes you want to keep loading the cd-player up! This was a compulsive listen and made all the more enjoyable by Cathleen McCarron's skilled narration and as always I adore her Tam MacNee.

The next book, Dead in the Water, has just been released as an audio book and I look forward very much to catching up with big Marge and the team in the not too distant future.

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