Vengeance, by R.C.Bridgestock
In case you should not already be aware [and I wasn’t, hitherto], the author is not one person with 2 initials, but an amalgam of 2 people: Robert [Bob] and Carol Bridgestock. Both have extensive knowledge of police work: Carol was a civilian supervisor, and Bob retired with the rank of Detective Superintendent, so between them, they have nearly 50 years of police experience; as well as the current principal, Detective Inspector Charley Mann [a sly joke, given that she is female?], for whom this is the fourth story, they have also created the “down-to-earth detective”, DI Jack Dylan, featuring in seven stories to date. The crime in this story, when it first occurs, is inexplicable, and shocking for the casualties & onlookers: after a wedding at a church in the real small West Yorkshire village of Slaithwaite [pronounced Slowit: that’s ow as in Ow! That hurt!], when the participants are being lined up for the obligatory photographs, a lone gunman bursts onto the scene and shoots the bride’s father dead; the best man is mortally wounded. Amazingly, two of the male guests have the presence of mind to challenge the gunman & give chase, overpowering him and giving him such a damn good thrashing that he no longer presents a viable threat, almost requiring hospital treatment himself.
Initially, this seems to be a motiveless killing, given that both victims are upstanding members of the community, but the fact that the gunman, a locally known itinerant drug addict, was carrying a large amount of cash on him, suggested that this could be a ‘hit’, but for what possible reason? Gradually, patient & persistent enquiries by DI Mann & her team establish the connections which suggest a possible motive. Family connections, as is often the case, provide the majority of clues, but there is also an organised crime element which is, sadly, never far from the surface in the modern world.
I wanted to give this a positive review, given that I have a very tangential connection to the authors, despite not knowing them personally, but I feel there is work still to be done here: they know the procedures and, presumably, the technicalities & hierarchies well enough, but I can’t help feeling that the prose style is that of an enthusiastic amateur—I still can’t decide whether calling the defence barrister in the case Mr Pompous is clever, or simply whimsical; without quoting examples [I can assure the reader, there are many], I lost count of the number of times my eyebrows raised upon reading something which just felt odd, or unusual, or even clumsy. That said, the plot was well thought out, and the perpetrator was not immediately obvious, once the reason for the murders was revealed. The paperback I read was published in 2022 by Canelo, London, ISBN 978-1-8043-6056-9.