Published By: Bridle Path Press
Released On: 12/10/2021
Who is Verity? That becomes a central question for American Nora Tierney, who has moved to her new Oxford home with her fiancé, DI Declan Barnes, and her young son. Declan’s new case at Exeter College coincides with a frantic call from Nora’s stepsister, Claire Scott: a fellow graduate student has died in a fall, and Claire begs Nora to help her prove her friend didn’t commit suicide. The sisters conduct their own snooping, while Declan and his team juggle this death with a cold case that proves to be more surprising than Declan could ever imagine.
Thanks to Marni for getting in touch with me with a gifted copy of her latest book in return for an honest review.
Granted, I haven’t read any of the previous Nora Tierney detective novels, and might have got a richer appreciation for this one if I had; having said that, I don’t think you lose anything having not read them, this sits entirely plausibly as a stand-alone story.
What I liked was having the mixture of a professional detective character in DI Declan Barnes, and an amateur detective in Nora herself. It gives a different energy to the story and the reader can imagine themselves as the amateur sleuth.
The story and the characters were compelling and likeable and very real, with all their flaws and ugliness thrown in amidst the glamour of their character. I find some detective stories have the tendency to be a bit elitist – especially in debut novels or with under-the-radar authors who don’t have the fame to fall back on – but I felt a great sense of normality and everyday-ness in Nora, and you could see her as a ‘real’ detective as she’s got a heart.
Marni isn’t over the top in her glorification of crime and murder, but equally she doesn’t shy away from the horror that murder obviously brings. It’s not there simply for entertainment purposes, but to drive the story and the characters along. For me, this is more of a character-driven book than plot-driven – others may disagree – and I like that, as it gives a more human element to a world we hope not to enter.
I definitely think Marni Graff is a name that should be spoken in murder mystery circles; she deserves much more attention in the literary world.