Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pierce’s Picks: “Good People”

A weekly alert for followers of crime, mystery, and thriller fiction.

Good People, by Ewart Hutton (Minotaur):
Scottish-born author and radio playwright Hutton has already moved on to publicizing his second novel, Dead People, in Great Britain. But that book’s predecessor, Good People--the opening number in a series about Welsh Detective Sergeant Glyn Capaldi, released in the UK last year--has only just now become available in the States. It finds Capaldi paying a heavy price for having screwed up an investigation: He’s transferred from his country’s capital, Cardiff, to “the big bit in the middle [of Wales] that God gave to the sheep.” It’s supposed to be a quiet posting, one that should give Capaldi time to rehabilitate his reputation. But this copper, who now calls a desolate trailer home, cannot seem to stay out of trouble. He dives into the irregular case of a minibus that went missing one Saturday night, filled with sports fans, after leaving a rugby match. The minibus is subsequently found abandoned, with no evidence of its six former male passengers. It doesn’t take long, though, for those men to surface, after spending a night in a backwoods shack. Well, at least most of them are heard from; one remains at large. His erstwhile compatriots claim that he went off with a woman hitchhiker (actually, a prostitute) they’d collected at a service station. For the locals, this explanation seems satisfactory. However, Capaldi is unconvinced, and digs further into the mystery, upsetting his superiors. The more pushback he receives, the more Capaldi wants to know what really happened--an effort that pulls back the covers on some rural skeletons nobody really wanted revealed. This is an atmospherically rich and sometimes amusing yarn, and if it’s not a perfect book, it’s still a promising start to Hutton’s series.

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