“The Flats” by Kate Birdsall

Despite the title, “The Flats” is not a story about a place. It’s a story about a person. Namely Detective Sergeant Liz Boyle, a wonderfully crafted, multi-dimensional character who develops and grows as the tale progresses.

The plot starts off with a gut-wrenching murder – that of a 5-year-old – and revolves around Boyle’s inability to deal with the murder of her own sister twenty years ago.

This seems to be the usual, “Will the Detective Go off the Rails?” murder mystery, and, except for the seeming lack of originality in that plotline, it’s a good one. We spend most of our time inside Boyle’s head as she tries to understand what is happening to her, and as she rationalizes her dubious actions with such skill that we are almost persuaded go along with them. She is sliding further and further off the rails, just as we expect. But just about the time I’m starting to think, “Oh, yeah, here we go again,” the plot (and the case) slips off in a different direction, and my interest stirs again as I scramble out of my preconceptions to try to keep up.

The plotline is the key, here, with the internal struggle of the detective mirrored in the external developments in the case. Don’t expect much shoot-‘em-up action until the final climax, because the best of the conflict mainly exists in the detective’s mind.

Highly recommended for fans of Murder Mystery and Police Procedural.

(5 / 5)

About the Author: Gordon Long

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