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Author of the Month

Name: William Brodrick

First Book: The Sixth Lamentation

Most Recent Book: The Gardens of the Dead

"Through a masterly show of smoke and mirrors, Brodrick leads us down paths to a wonderful, enlightening conclusion."

Synopsis:

Elizabeth Glendinning is a very successful barrister. She has led quite a privileged life and has worked her way through the ranks. Now she has been found dead in her car. Before she died, she managed to leave a couple of phone messages. Why did she die and what was she doing in an area she would never normally visit?

Father Anselm's old colleague, Elizabeth, has given him the key to a deposit box. He was to use it in the event of her death. Elizabeth left everything in place if ever she could not finish her mission. A homeless man called George Bradshaw is waiting for the monk who will sort everything out. He waits days and days but the monk never arrives. As a result of Anselm's hesitation the whole plan is shattered. What is it that George Bradshaw has for Anselm? What does it have to do with Graham Riley, Elizabeth Glendinning and an old court case? It seems that all the main characters are interconnected with each other. A shared history. But this doesn't just go back to a court case some years ago. There is a far deeper layer. One that goes back many years ago...

Review:

This is a brilliant crime novel, but it is also a wonderful book about identity. The book is about the identity of Elizabeth as a bringer of justice - and as a mother. About how her son, Nick, begins to realise he never really knew his mother. We are introduced to Graham Riley who is a conman with a troubled past and present. His wife, Nancy, who has lived her life worried about her man and, yet, has also ignored what he truly is. George Bradshaw, a broken homeless man whose life has been speckled with tragedy and wanders the streets not sure what his life is about anymore. It is only when Elizabeth spurs him on for what could be construed as selfish reasons, that he start to get back some of the self respect he has lost. All these people have had to subsume their identity as a result of events in their life. But life has a way of bringing to the surface that which has been buried for far too long.

All these different people are interconnected. Through a masterly show of smoke and mirrors, Brodrick leads us down paths to a wonderful, enlightening conclusion. This is a novel of lost innocence and redemption. At the end of the novel all the characters could be deemed victims in one way or another. The Gardens of the Dead is a sublime piece of writing. A beautiful novel that is more about what terrible events can do to people and how it can mould them into the person they are today. The people and the places are evoked with style and the reader is always wondering where the different strands were leading.

I strongly suggest you open this book and allow the heavenly Father Anselm to take you by the hand and let him guide you through this fascinating maze called life.

Reviewed by: C. S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

 

 


Questionnaire

1) How would you describe your books?

(Hopefully) strong narrative with an equally strong moral underbelly

2) What is your favourite crime read of all time?

Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky

3) Would you describe yourself as a Crime fan and if so, which authors do you most admire and why?

My understanding of 'Crime fiction' is very wide indeed, as my previous answer demonstrates. It is perhaps more accurate to say that I am a fan of any novel where this is a moral or emotional crisis which requires resolution - and nowhere is that more sharply exhibited than in situations where a crime has been committed; where human behaviour has crossed the boundary between right and wrong - whether that is recognised by the law or not; where we struggle to understand both victims and perpetrators.

4) Who, in your eyes, is pushing the boundaries of crime fiction today - and why?

I can't answer that because I couldn't claim to know the terrain, to have read widely enough to appreciate who is doing what, and why their work is innovative. That said, my inclination is to say that the boundaries of crime fiction are, by definition, elastic, almost without breaking strain - as the list of sub-genres would suggest (detective fiction, legal thriller etc). This is, of course, the tremendous quality of crime fiction. Both writer and reader have enormous scope to pursue their interests. Certain novels could as easily be placed under literary fiction as under crime. The labels begin to unpeel.

5) Without giving away the plot, which book included your favourite plot twist of all time?

If I can refer to a novel that might be classified as detective fiction - and this is interesting, given my previous answer, because there is no crime involved - I would say Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Hanging over the entire plot is a single question launched very early in the novel: who is Pip's benefactor? The resolution of that problem forms not only the climax of the novel, but is intimately linked to Pip's self-discovery.

6) What is your favourite movie adaptation of a crime novel?

The Big Sleep

7) The main protagonist in your two novels is a monk called Anselm. You have had a wide and varied career or calling having been a friar and then trained for the bar - things Anselm himself has done. How much of yourself do you see in Father Anselm?

As a character who I will be exploring in subsequent books, he is very different to me: it is not a case of extended autobiography. He will be presented gradually in the context of each story. I, too, will be discovering him through this turning of the page. That said, there is a great deal we share: the questions he asks; the puzzles that preoccupy him; his propensity to get it wrong before he accidentally gets it right. And in that last, I suppose - the getting it right - there is a great deal of wishful thinking!

8) Where do you see Crime fiction going next?

As I said before, I lack authority. But I see no reason why crime fiction cannot be co-extensive with the reaches of any kind of fiction - understood as attempts to reflect on and enrich our lives at the deepest level.