Nothing to Hide by James Oswald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A cracking second investigation for DC Constance Fairchild, promising a hit for James Oswald’s new series.
DC Constance Fairchild is back in London… and back in trouble. Or maybe still in trouble, it’s hard to tell. It’s bad enough that her suspension’s not been lifted, that she’s on the receiving end of serious attitude from other police for rocking the boat, and that the gutter press won’t leave her alone, but now there’s a crime scene right outside her flat. She’s been told to leave it, to keep a low profile, but after finding some poor boy dying beneath the rubbish, she’s not about to let that stand. Especially when she discovers that he’s far from the first. But she has no idea that this is an investigation that’s going to take her to the darkest of places, a fight for her very survival…
Firstly, let me say that I’ve never read James Oswald before, but this is the kind of book that immediately adds the author’s entire back catalogue to your TBR. It was that good.
A proper read-it-in-a-day, can’t put it down experience that had me flying through one section so fast I had to go back and do it again.
Secondly, Con Fairchild really is TROUBLE. This woman is a magnet for danger. Or bad luck. Or something. But what I love about her characterisation is that none of this is brought about by stupidity. Daring, sure. Determination to find out what’s going on, definitely. A serious disregard for following the rules or doing what she’d told by her superiors…. er… ok yeah. She ticks all the boxes for the best kind of (fictional) detectives: clever, capable, little bit maverick, little bit snarky. Actually, double tick that snarky box. I loved her.
I can’t remember the last time I fell for a new crime series so hard.
But what makes this book so excellent is that it doesn’t rely on the main character to hold it all up. There’s an entire collection of interesting people who feel real and present and relatable, from the kindly yet mysterious neighbour to Con’s police colleagues, near and far. And this is where things get interesting because there’s a bit of crossover here with James Oswald’s Edinburgh series and it seems like it might be a bit supernatural?? Full of dangerous and dark things?? If so… Sign. Me. Up. There’s a touch of that here too and I’m all for it. In a genre where everything has to be explained, it’s fun to have a hint of the inexplicable. And there are cats, so obviously there’s magic involved.
As for the plot, it’s well done but not entirely surprising. I have a suspicious mind and there are a few things early on that set those bells jangling. There were a few times I had to give the book a serious talking to because, as anyone who reads or watches thrillers should know, some types of people are inherently dodgy and Constance really should have been investigating this particular avenue more thoroughly from the moment she saw them….. Sadly the characters have to follow the rules of real life and not fiction, so my interjections were in vain. But thankfully Con doesn’t slack, she works the case one piece of evidence at a time, always pushing, never letting up. She might get herself in trouble, but she gets herself out too. Watching her get chewed out by her boss every time she ends up in the middle of something or somewhere she’s not supposed to be reminded me of every classic cop show and book I’ve ever seen or read. And I mean that in a good way. It brings a smile to my face writing about it now. She’s the archetypal troublemaker and it works. Whatever difficulties she finds herself in next, I’m there for it.
In the meantime, looks like I have 9 Inspector McLean books to catch up on…
Books in series
ARC via Netgalley