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by Maureen Carter
Crème de la Crime, August 2008
288 pages
7.99 GBP
ISBN: 0955707838

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

DS Bev Morriss is the kind of cop who could find trouble in an empty room. She's stubborn, lippy and can rub any senior officer the wrong way. The only time she does keep schtum is when it comes to her private life, and you can guarantee it'll be a mess.

BAD PRESS is the fifth outing for the Birmingham detective, and it's a good 'un. Maureen Carter's a former journalist, and she puts her knowledge to excellent use as the world of newspaper entwines with a police hunt for a serial killer.

Matt Snow is a wildly ambitious crime reporter on the local paper, but dreams of greater things. Suddenly, though, he seems to be getting to murder scenes at just the wrong moment. He and Bev have clashed plenty of times before over his 'rent a mouth' views, but she's pretty certain he's not a murderer.

One of the things I like about Carter is just when you think she's going to serve you up a genre cliché on a plate with a cherry on top, she whips back the lid and presents you with a feast of a totally different kind.

So BAD PRESS marries the dark, edgy police procedural that Carter does so well with Bev's messy private life, and shows her surprisingly vulnerable side, rampant hormones and all. And she's in it alone, apart from bossy housemate Frankie, as former boyfriend Oz Khan is off in London, her beloved boss Det Supt Byford is still off sick, her bete noir DI Mike Powell is still smarming round the place, and she doesn't quite trust new partner DC Mac Tyler.

I read the book in one sitting and it kept me rapt on a long train journey. Carter's greatest strength is her razor-sharp dialogue, but she plots immaculately and presents the reader with a cast of real people, from Bev down to tiny cameo roles from various cops or passers-by.

The only thing that stops me from loving BAD PRESS unreservedly (OK, I loved it reservedly!) is the ending, which I'm still pondering and still can't decide whether or not it's a cop-out (so to speak). It's not a bad ending, but it smacks slightly of the easy way out – although it sets Bev up for loads more angst on her next outing.

Maureen Carter is a writer of real class and if you haven't read this series, you've got a treat to come. If there was any justice in this world, she'd be as famous as Ian Rankin!

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, August 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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