STILL WATERS - Judith Cutler

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Still Waters
Fran Harman
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Book Synopsis

Detective Chief Superintendent Fran Harman has never been happier.  Her relationship with Assistant Chief Constable Mark Turner is going well and they are buying a house together.  At work, a former protégé, Simon Gates, has just become her new boss.

But Simon's attitude has changed and Mark's daughter seems hell-bent on destroying their domestic harmony.  Even the environment is hostile, the water in Fran's village tainted by something in the local reservoir.  Some good old-fashioned detective work seems a useful antidote, even when it's an investigation into something no one really believes is a crime.

Book Review

The second DCS Fran Harmon book I've read, there is such a lot that that you'd think would make these books unlikeable.  Fran is almost too cheerful and nice, she's the sort of person that it's not hard to fantasise about as a victim of brutal crime.  Mind you, she's also refreshingly not like your stereotypical angst ridden, difficult boss - she actively supports and encourages her subordinates, both in a day to day work sense, and as part of her ongoing police policy work.  She's got her own boss problems though, and she handles them (mostly) with aplomb. There's a big concentration on Fran (and Mark's) personal life - which whilst not totally idyllic, is love's young dream enough to drive you mildly nuts, especially if you're slightly allergic to that level of the personal in the middle of your police procedural.  And finally, in STILL WATERS, there is the classic multiple unconnected threads that end up converging.

But for some strange reason STILL WATERS (and the other book I've read in this series) are quite entertaining reads.  On the less than confrontational side, there's something very engaging about Fran and Mark, their ongoing love story,  their investigation methods, the station in which they work, and in all their colleagues.  Sure things are a bit busy in places, who is who and where they fit in the police structure can be hard to follow at points, and Fran - as you'd expect from somebody of her personality type - has a tendency to talk way too much, but the basic plot of the investigation was nicely done, and cleverly drawn out - right to the end of the book. 

STILL WATERS is the latest in the Fran Harmon series, and reading the earlier books will give you a total view of who she is, where she came from, although you could also pick this book up on its own without any problem.  There is enough back story filled in, without it being tedious if you have read earlier books. 

There's some really entertaining storytelling in STILL WATERS, despite all the things that you'd think would drive you slightly bats, Fran is the sort of overly cheerful character that even this grumpy reader can happily spend some time with.

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