Virtually all the crime fiction I read is part of a series. I haven’t any problems with that and I understand why an author might want to reuse characters they have spent a long time developing and thinking about. I also like things which are familiar in my reading (you will note that I often reread favourites). Her Husband’s Grave by PL Kane is, however, a stand-alone crime novel which makes a change for me.
The book is set in a coastal resort where Robyn’s cousin Vicky lives. Robyn and Vicky were very close as children and spent their summers together in the same place. In recent years they have fallen out of touch but when Vicky’s husband is found dead and buried on the beach she calls Robyn because her cousin works as a criminal psychologist.
Robyn has mixed feelings about helping her cousin but she is currently signed off work after an injury to her back sustained on a previous job. She comes to stay with Vicky, her daughter and the resident Family Liaison Officer to try to help the local police force discover who has committed the murder. But the local police aren’t very cooperative and don’t want her assistance, her cousin is moody, her back hurts and she isn’t really sure that she wants to be there at all – and then there is another murder.
I have to say that I didn’t really enjoy this book and nearly abandoned it once or twice. This is not because I think it was badly written but because of the character of Robyn and how she behaves which I found irritating. Robyn is misusing prescription drugs and alcohol because she has not dealt with what has happened in her previous case. She is, probably because of the substance abuse, bad tempered and rude to everyone. She seems to feel that this local force should immediately accept her help even though she is not employed by them so it is difficult to see how she would be accountable to anyone for how she uses the confidential information they eventually give her. It makes total sense to me that they should be suspicious and wary especially as there is a possible conflict of interest in using information provided by a member of the dead man’s family. In the end, however, although she has the information about the case she seems not to use it but to go on some kind of gut instinct about who is hiding something. The relationship between Vicky and Robyn is a difficult one mainly because Robyn is hiding something from the past which is the reason why they have become estranged. When Vicky sees a spiritualist to try and contact her dead husband Robyn behaves very badly and disruptively for reasons that I didn’t quite grasp. When she is convinced that someone is involved in the death she investigates on her own and puts her life at risk.
I didn’t like those things about Robyn and the way that she worked and because this book centres on her investigation it meant that I didn’t enjoy following the story through to its ending. I have read many books with difficult main characters so I am not sure why this story particularly left me unengaged.
Just because I didn’t enjoy this book doesn’t mean that others shouldn’t try it. It is an easy enough read and not gory at all. There is a lot of tension build up as Robyn receives notes and messages that she is not welcome which make her feel threatened and the solution to the mystery is cleverly done. I won’t, however, be looking out for any more of this author’s titles.