Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New Book Review - The Reckoning

Book - The Reckoning
Writer - Rennie Airth
Series - John Madden #4 
Published By - Penguin

First things first, I got this book as part of the penguin's 'first to read' program, so thank you Penguin for this opportunity.
The two world wars have always been very fertile ground for many kinds of fictions, but it has become generally difficult to achieve a level of originality and uniqueness in such a overused setting. 'Rennie Airth' really did a fine job of taking a quite different and enjoyable approach to using the setting. The series of John Madden novels are set in and around the two wars where the author combines historical fiction with mystery in a delightful way. Although this is the 4th novel I didn't read the previous three and it did not hamper my enjoyment one bit and that is another plus point for this genre bending journey.

The setting of the novel is after the second war, when England is in a state of depression and recuperating, there are still the horrors of war ominously present on everyday life while people try their best to achieve the desired sense of normalcy. In these difficult times the plot follows the seeming unrelated murder of two individuals who are killed by the same weapon and a half-finished never posted letter from one of the victim brings the retired Scotland Yard detective John Madden into the case.

The story then progresses in a brisk pace as we slowly find out the connection between the murders; a motive reaching to the time of the first of the wars; and try to find the next person in danger as the number of death also increases. The mystery was quite interesting and kept me guessing till about one third into the book as to how the crimes are even related. The connection to the war and the overall sense of justice; the horrible truth and cost of war and unique characters are what makes this innovative. The characters were done with care and a sense of realism particular to that period of time and really shows the ability of the writer in portraying personalities.

Some other aspects I liked is the subtle sense of cozy mystery in the first half and the gradual change of pace into a fast paced thriller while maintaining the same level of fascinating storytelling prowess intact. On the other hand after initial deduction of the motive and the relations between the murders, the mystery element kind of suffered but the sense of thrill near the end was very enjoyable (although the end did seem a bit over dramatic for the rest of the novel).

In the end, it has to be said the author knows how to create the atmosphere of that particular period very skillfully and has a talent of deliciously unfolding the mystery. This is highly recommended for fans of both historical fiction and mystery.

4 out of 5 stars.             

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