RogerBW's Blog

Rattling the Bones, Ann Granger 20 March 2019

2007 thriller/mystery; seventh of Granger's novels of Fran Varady, would-be thespian and amateur sleuth. When Fran runs into Edna, the homeless woman she used to know when she was living in a squat, it seems like a welcome encounter; but Edna's scared of something, and someone is following her. And that's before Fran starts digging into old secrets.

Things start quite slowly, and it's sometimes a bit of a slog in the early chapters; in particular, there are some stock too-much-money think-the-world-belongs-to-them types of the sort whom we've seen before in this series, and who don't really bring anything new to the story.

On the other hand Fran has certainly developed, with her temper much more under control than on prior occasions. All right, as has happened before, there are moments when Fran could say a specific obvious thing in order to defuse the situation but doesn't think of it; but it doesn't feel as foolish or out of character as it has on previous occasions. What's more, Inspector Janice Morgan is back, and Fran actually takes the situation to her as soon as there's a reasonable justification for police involvement (though obviously she continues to investigate on her own as well). Compared with earlier books in the series, it seems as though Fran's done a great deal of growing up.

The mystery is no great shakes, since the cast is small and there aren't really many options for First Murderer, but the old secrets make sense and explain present-day behaviour on several levels – while never being the only reason for it.

There's no particular conclusion to the series here, but Granger hasn't written any more books featuring Fran (and has written other things since this came out). Given how little most detective series have progression between books at all, I'd have liked to have seen more of this one; though it's not at all obvious what Fran's future direction would be.

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