RogerBW's Blog

Spin and Die, Stella Whitelaw 13 December 2016

2000 mystery, third in Whitelaw's Jordan Lacey series. Jordan takes on a job following a woman suspected of compensation fraud against the local department store, and then tries to track down vanishing stock in the run-up to Christmas. And of course there's also a murder.

Where the first book took a pleasingly off-beat approach, and the second showed Jordan being too consciously Zany, this one settles down into the business of investigation, while still tackling things a little sideways.

Yes, Jordan is still drooping around lusting after DI James, and is unable to say anything to him about it because, er, well, because, look over there I'm sure I saw Elvis. At least she doesn't make any effort to keep the other two blokes dangling after her. Her asthma conveniently comes and goes as needed. There's yet another set-piece implausible trap, from which Jordan has to be rescued.

But Jordan does generally work better here as a character than she has before. It's just a shame about the mystery, where one problem is going to be solved with "gurl unq n gjva fvoyvat jr qvqa'g gryy lbh nobhg", another with "fbzr thl jr zragvbarq bapr, naq jub'f arire orra ba fgntr, qhaavg", and a chapter or two before the end everyone decides that it's all over and they can go home, even though there are clearly plenty of dangling links. I wondered whether this was an attempt at the realistic untidiness of real-world criminal investigations, but apparently not.

No, what's good here is Jordan's slightly skewed view of the world, and the nuts and bolts of paid investigative work. This is better than the second book, but it only rises to the level of mediocre filler: OK to listen to on a long car journey, but not a good use of proper reading time. Followed by Hide and Die.

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