RogerBW's Blog

Running Scared, Ann Granger 17 November 2017

1998 thriller; third of Granger's novels of Fran Varady, would-be actress and amateur sleuth. Fran's working in her friend Ganesh's corner shop when a man stumbles in, obviously injured, then leaves once he's cleaned himself up a bit. But now sinister characters are hanging around the shop, and around Fran herself.

This third book sticks to London again, and benefits by it, but suffers slightly from plot dilution: apart from the man being chased by criminals, there's an old squat-mate who could use a hand sorting her life out, and a dodgy friend of Ganesh's is renovating the shop's washroom, and Fran's landlady is being pestered by her repellent nephews, and one of the policemen looking into the criminality is quite fanciable, and…

Part of the tension is that most of these things are drains on Fran's time and attention, and she can't give any of them the thought they deserve. Part of it is that the opposition is clearly out of Fran's league unless she does really well.

Everything comes together in the end (though with some things left unresolved in the way that real life does), and if one particular bit of foreshadowing is entirely too heavy-handed then I suppose that's fair enough. What this isn't, though, is a mystery story: there's a certain amount of working out what's going on, but there's no gathering of clues to spot a murderer or anything of that nature, and certainly no question of which of these people is the villain. Instead one wonders whether a particular plan is going to come off.

Still good fun, though, and I continue to find Fran a likeable character with organic flaws that make sense as part of her personality, rather than having them added to make a Mary-Sue seem more relatable. Followed by Risking It All.

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