Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Murder in Containment by Anne Cleeland: My Review
I tend to take a page from Lord Acton when I read a book in this outstanding series by Anne Cleeland. Obsession starts from the first word and hardly ends with the last. I usually must pull out the previous books and revisit those in part, too. And, there is the knowing that the book is ending and trying to read the last few chapters slowly or delay them, because I know that while I will be completely satisfied when I close the book, I will be entering withdrawal from my addiction. Of course, the addiction never goes away; it is only abated until the next book. Book #4, Murder in Containment, in the Acton/Doyle series is as unputdownable as the previous three, which is great news for fans and maybe not such good news for a husband with whom I was spending an anniversary weekend. Ah, but the heart wants what the heart wants, and as Kathleen Doyle would say, “It was a crackin’ good read.”
Murder in Containment is one of the most deliciously complicated plots yet in the series. Detective Sergeant Kathleen Doyle is pregnant, as was revealed in the previous book, Murder in Hindsight, and she is having a wretched time of it, with morning sickness that won’t confine itself to morning. DCI Michael Sinclair/Lord Acton, Doyle’s husband, is on a high-profile case with connections that could prove irreparably scandalous for Scotland Yard’s CID. Doyle’s prescience is becoming more fine-tuned as she allows herself to give credence to its veracity, but she keeps her gifts under wraps. She already presents a target for those who would harm Acton, and knowledge of her abilities could prove fatal.
As usual, Detective Sergeant Doyle’s case, a carry-over from last novel finds itself crossing into the territory of Acton’s web of tangled troubles. The journalist-turned-vigilante, who Doyle knew as a friend before his nefarious activity, has one more murder to commit, and DS Doyle is on hand to thwart his final attempt. The intended victim is DCI Drake, and Doyle is puzzled about Drake’s fitting the killer’s profile for his marks. Kevin Maguire, the killer/journalist had as his fixed motive trying to right previous miscarries of justice. While Doyle struggles to understand the motive, Maguire starts appearing in Doyle’s dreams as a sort of guide to danger ahead. Acton’s case involves corruption at Wexton Prison, and he cautiously uses Doyle’s gifts to ferret out the lies.
The murder focus in on that of containment murders, those committed to prevent the victim from leading Acton, either deliberately or accidentally, to the masterminds in the prison corruption. Doyle is well aware that her husband, no stranger to vigilante justice, may be involved in some containment activity, including murder, of his own. Acton has always played his own game in law enforcement, but it has its own twisted form of what’s right and just. Doyle is more by the book, except where her special gifts are an advantage. Together Doyle and Acton make a formidable team, both professionally and personally. Their conversations are such great dialogue, with Doyle’s use of her Irish roots and self-deprecating quips and Acton’s dry sense of humor. The Lord of the realm and the Irish lass are never boring.
The story is told from the point of view of Doyle, but there is a nice surprise deep into the novel when Detective Inspector Thomas Williams has a short chapter of his own. Williams is such a likeable character, his heart still beating for Doyle, but his loyalty to Acton never in question. It’s a tough line he must walk, and he walks it admirably. He has a few surprises of his own in this story, and I’m delighted to see his role deepened.
This book could well be read by itself and enjoyed, but the previous three books build on each other so much, especially the brilliant character development (both major and minor characters), that the reader would be cheating her/himself by not reading the first three. And, you don’t want to miss a minute of the story of Kathleen Doyle and Michael Sinclair, Lord Acton. The other characters, too, grow so much, and Lord Acton’s peerage and his estate at Trestles is explained a little more each book. Of course, there are the amazing police procedural stories, crimes and murder mysteries, that just can’t be missed. So, if you haven’t read any of the series yet, give yourself a Christmas gift by buying all four and shutting yourself away during the holidays for non-stop reading. If you’ve read the previous novels, it’s rather certain you are already champing at the bit to read Murder in Containment. So, treat yourself to one of the best reads of 2016 as soon as you can.