STRANGER IN THE ROOM

Written by Amanda Kyle Williams

Review written by Keith Miles

Keith Miles is probably best recognised by readers under the pen name of Edward Marston. He writes several well-received historical mysteries spanning the 11th century through to the 19th century. His website is www.edwardmarston.com


STRANGER IN THE ROOM
Headline
RRP: £12.99
Released: 2nd August 2012
Trade Pbk

Stranger in the Room is the second in Williams’ series featuring Atlanta-based PI Keye Street; apparently there are more in the pipeline.  Not having read the first I was at a slight disadvantage – always a problem when you miss the first novel.  However, I did have problems I wouldn’t have expected – I didn’t realise which gender Keye Street might be, let alone her ethnicity.  Neither should have mattered, of course, but there’s no profit in irritating a reader at the outset. 

 

For the first hundred pages I doubted if I’d get further: there was a sense of déjà vu about much of the writing – the leisurely if sassy language; the Southern mother who’s a great cook; Street’s fatal flaw (alcoholism); Street’s job as a PI (for all this is actually based on the author’s experience).  I felt I’d been there and done that many times already, particularly as the plotting seemed a bit hazy.  But just as I was about to give up, I got hooked, though I’m not sure in which plot. It was as if Williams had at last found something she really wanted to say about crematorium fraud – but where that led in terms of the harvesting of organs I’m not sure, because then we rushed back to the serial killer plot, one I found a tad far-fetched in terms of the psychological back-story.  But at least by then I was cheering on the characters and the pace had hotted up.

 

Everyone says that the second novel is the hardest to write; in Williams’ case, since she’s got other novels under her belt with smaller publishers, perhaps it’s just the second in the series.  I hope that she trusts her editor to yell and scream at her when the plotting drifts at the beginning – two-thirds of the novel says she’s an excellent writer well worth reading. 

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