Hazel Palmer: Puns shine in ‘Blood Lines’

June 14, 2018

If you enjoy puns, word plays and mysteries, you cannot do better than the Bill Slider detective series by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. In additional to writing well-developed mysteries, Harrod-Eagles laces her chapter headings with puns. For example, the first chapter of “Blood Lines” is titled “A Scar is Born,” and the second chapter is “Knife Work.”

The main character, Bill Slider, is a detective inspector who works in Shepherd’s Bush near London. He is a careful, determined investigator who empathizes with the victims and refuses to give up until the perpetrator is identified. Unlike many formula mysteries, Slider works well with his boss Honeyman, a small man whose most endearing quality is the habit of totally butchering clichs. When discussing whether the death of a music critic, the crime around which “Blood Lines” is set, is suicide or murder, Honeyman expressed concern that Slider “can’t see the wood for the trees,” one of the few aphorisms which Honeyman gets right!

Once the forensic pathologist, Freddie Cameron, arrives at the scene and announces “The hounds of law on felon’s traces, eh?” the examination of the corpse adds to the confusion since Cameron finds it difficult to clearly determine if the subject died of suicide or murder. This modern British procedural then travels down one blind alley after another. Suspects are interviewed, the theater and dressing rooms searched, a violent argument between the victim and his rival investigated and love interests uncovered. As the investigation proceeds, it appears that the main suspect is a friend and colleague of Slider’s. Pressure from the police bureaucracy and media to arrest the main suspect is balanced against Slider’s determination to carefully weigh every possibility. An unanticipated twist at the end of the mystery justifies Slider’s caution and reveals the real culprit.

Every Bill Slider mystery is delightful yet complex. The conclusion will surprise the reader, and the puns will enthrall.

Author Cynthia Harrod-Eagles was born and educated in London. After a career in the business world, she became a full-time writer. Her website is www.cynthiaharrodeagles.com. Her books may be found in the Cabell County Public Library.

Hazel Palmer moved from Charleston to Huntington recently after a statewide career in education, small business development, and the nonprofit sector. She is a voracious reader and a Cabell County Library enthusiast.

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