For today’s Thursday Creation Review, I’m catching up on an outstanding one from March when. I wrote a few words on Goodreads for this third book in the Fiona Griffiths series by Harry Bingham and promised a longer review.
Anyway, as promised…
The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths
Harry Bingham (Goodreads Author)
It started out as nothing much. A minor payroll fraud at a furniture store in South Wales. No homicide involved, no corpses. Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths fights to get free of the case but loses. She’s tasked with the investigation.
She begins her enquiries, only to discover the corpse of a woman who’s starved to death. Looks further, and soon realizes that within the first, smaller crime, a vaster one looms: the most audacious theft in history.
Fiona’s bosses need a copper willing to go undercover, and they ask Fiona to play the role of a timid payroll clerk so that she can penetrate the criminal gang from within.
Fiona will be alone, she’ll be lethally vulnerable – and her fragile grip on ‘Planet Normal’ will be tested as never before …
Review 5 stars
Fiona Griffiths is one amazingly quirky detective and this third book adds just another layer or two to her persona. Harry Bingham continues to throw curve balls in her path, starting with that title.
When DC Fiona Griffiths is tasked with investigating a minor payroll fraud, she discovers a vaster crime is lurking within the first. Fiona is asked to go undercover as a timid payroll clerk to penetrate the criminal gang from inside. But, being alone and vulnerable, challenges her ability to cope with reality.
I enjoyed this third book even more than the previous. Fiona continues to go down unexpected paths and evolve in unexpected ways. With her new persona, she is so complex and fascinating that there was room for her to explore this new world, discover different people – all well portrayed – and prove she can interact convincingly with criminals. If you have read the first two books, then you know that her father has criminal connections. However, she is always operating on a precipice – in reality, and in her mind.
As Fiona becomes Jessica, there is a clever change of pace that matches the new character – a new character that Fiona inhabits almost too well. The title began to make sense, but then the author added new twists and turns – new layers to his protagonist and that title.
The settings are crafted with a realism that matches the unfolding story – from London offices to remote Welsh farms. Gritty when the scene requires that but uplifting when the reader needs green spaces and strong breezes. A year in Fiona’s life covers so much territory.
Harry Bingham is a great believer in keeping readers thinking as well as the coppers and the criminals. He creates believable situations and demonstrates the depth of his research, even down to the details of forms that Fiona/Jessica handles and the electronics both sides use.
Nothing is ever easy or calm when undercover, and as Fiona/Jessica got deeper into this criminal world, I asked, “Will Jessica survive?” Prepare for another awesome ending.
I look forward to visiting Fiona Griffiths’ Cardiff/South Wales world soon, especially as she has ongoing questions to resolve.
Story – five stars
Setting/World-building – five stars
Authenticity – five stars
Characters – five stars
Structure – five stars
Readability – five stars
Editing – five stars