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Still Waters    by Nigel McCrery Amazon.com order for
Still Waters
by Nigel McCrery
Order:  USA  Can
Pantheon, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Author Nigel McCrery - with many novels and contributions to several BBC series to his credit - has begun a new series featuring DCI Mark Lapslie. Lapslie is one of few people in the world afflicted with a rare disease, synaesthesia, that causes him to taste sound - which makes his life even more complicated than the crimes he's trying to solve.

In this first of the series, Still Waters, the decayed body of an elderly woman is unearthed when a car crash reveals her hidden grave. The facts that she's been poisoned, and the tips of the fingers of her right hand cut off with shears, are the only clues with which the police have to work. Assisted by Sergeant Emma Bradbury, Lapslie feels he is being hampered by someone higher up in the police department in his investigation of what he believes is a serial killer; while his handicap makes his job only that much harder, as noises morph into tastes that are sometimes nauseating.

Still Waters is horrifying in spots, intriguing in others, full of suspense, and is so captivating that the reader can almost smell bacon frying when Lapslie's sergeant talks to him. Action creeps up so quickly that awareness of what is happening comes out of the blue and takes over. Characterization excels. We suffer with Lapslie's affliction as he struggles to keep his emotions intact. When the crime scene manager tells Lapslie that 'We appear to have a dead body,' his 'voice tasted the way Lapslie imagined black berry wine would taste: musty and thin.'

The killer is a fascinating person, with whom anyone could enjoy spending time someone who would do anything for you until you discovered they were not as sweet as they presented themselves. Garden knowledge about poisonous plants becomes almost overwhelming and made me almost stomp on my beautiful foxglove plants. Treat yourself - or someone you know who loves good mysteries - to Still Waters today. We want Nigel McCrery's book sales to skyrocket so he will feel it worthwhile to continue his unusual and engaging new series.

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