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Ruined Stones By the author of The Guardian Stones
by Eric Reed Poisoned Pen Press Historical Fiction , Mystery & Thrillers Pub Date 04 Jul 2017
With the men away at war, women took on many jobs traditionally held by men, including police work. Grace Baxter is a newly minted WPC just assigned to Newcastle-on-Tyne. As a woman, her capabilities are suspect, but every hand is needed. When an unknown prostitute’s body is discovered carefully arranged in the ruins of a Roman temple, Grace suspects murder. Her superior feels it is an accident, but is happy for Grace to occupy herself. The villagers are reluctant to share their secrets - even more so when a second body is found, that of Grace’s roommate’s ne'er do well husband. Complicating the murder inquiries are the village’s inherent suspicion of incomers and the fear and prejudice against refugees.
Grace’s inquisitiveness, as well as her good sense and ability to approach people, serve her well as a constable. But that doesn't mean she receives the same respect that a man would. On the other hand, women are more comfortable speaking with her, particularly about domestic issues. Ruined Stones is definitely a police procedural, even though it departs from the normal formula. It is fascinating to see the effect of the Blitz on village life and how it affects behaviors and attitudes. I enjoyed reading Ruined Stones and look forward to seeing what Eric Reed has in store for Grace next.
4 / 5
I received a copy of Ruined Stones from the publisher and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
Surviving the 1941 Blitz and the predator in her small Shropshire village, policeman's daughter Grace Baxter moves to Newcastle-on-Tyne. Situated on the northern bank of the River Tyne, the ancient northeast city developed around the Roman settlement Pons Aelius-named for the Emperor Hadrian who built the famous wall right at the edge of the then civilized world. No matter its later history as a wool trade, then coal mining center, and the ship building that makes it a German bombing target, Newcastle's Roman past won't be ignored.
Grace is eager to explore city life. And she's turned professional with an official job in the city's constabulary. The war means women can find work, even if most men in the job discount if not actively resent her.
Grace's arrival coincides with the discovery of the body of a young woman, curiously difficult to identify, at the scanty ruins of a Roman temple situated across from a church. The bone-numbing cold, the fogs, and the Blitz, not to mention to peculiar behavior of some of the citizens and the hostility directed towards a woman in man's work, test Grace's resolve to be an effective officer. There are many potential leads, and much suspicious behavior to sort through. What role do ancient rituals play in the murder and what follows? What current misbehavior or crimes is someone, or someones, desperate to cover up? The investigation, carried out through fog and blackout and fear as well as the hostility of her colleagues, tests Grace's resolve to be an effective officer. Will it also endanger her life?