Book Review: In the Light of Madness, by Hemmie Martin

Publisher:  Winter Goose Publishing

Publication date:  7th December 2013

Gravestones jutted out of the ground like candles on a birthday cake. They marked an occasion in a person’s life-span, but were ultimately forgotten once the ceremony was over.

The above quote is the opening of In the Light of Madness. It gives you a taster of the quality of the writing, which was a breeze to read. Its comfortable pace was set from the beginning and the short, snappy chapters allowed me to shadow DI Eva Wednesday and co. as they investigate the a murder of a teenager whose body was discovered in a cemetery. The crime appears curiously motiveless and they have the added pressure of locating the deceased’s closest friend, who hasn’t been seen since the gruesome discovery was made.

The initial impressions of the scene of crime and the manner in which challenging interviews are conducted are expressed effortlessly. The characters find their voices quickly and the little kinks in their personalities trigger quotas of rapport or friction at just the right time.

We learn that the DI shares a house with her journalist half-sister, which causes all manner of issues as the integrity of their professional and personal lives have a tendency to clash. One thing they have in common is the unpredictable presence of their mother’s illness that threatens to consume the family throughout the story. Although the DI copes admirably, the distressing situation adds more pressure to Wednesday’s woes.

It was endearing, if somewhat unexpected, to see the chain-smoking DI blush as often as she did. While this particular vulnerability made her appear more human than other ‘tough-as-nails’ counterparts playing a similar role, given her high rank I would have presumed that ideally she should have a more ‘assertive’ by default.  So kudos to the author for taking the refreshing approach of stepping away from the stereotypical tough-as-nails Detective Inspector I have come to expect.  

Murder. Missing persons. Mental health. This trying investigation unearths more questions than answers for Wednesday and her team, and there’s a terrific mix of social imperfections ranging from those with perceived class to others whose behaviour that is just plain tactless given the severity of the situation. It’s easy to scrutinise a person from their post code or a lifestyle we disapprove of, but as this story will prove all someone needs to take a life is a distorted perspective.

All in all In the Light of Madness had a solid plot that held my attention until the end. Nicely done!

Rating: 3.5/5

(Huge thanks to the author for providing a copy of their book and for patiently waiting for my unbiased review – it’s much appreciated.)

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

A murdered boy in a Cambridgeshire graveyard sets in motion an investigation into the local church and school, with suspicions of a cult murmured throughout the community. With their first case, DI Eva Wednesday and DS Jacob Lennox explore the various levels of desperation and malice that can stem from an unhappy or dissatisfied life, where no one takes responsibility for their actions. They quickly find that everyone harbours a secret which, left uncontrolled, can bring forth devastating self-destruction.

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Hemmie Martin spent most of her professional life as a Community Nurse for people with learning disabilities, a Family Planning Nurse, and a Forensic Mental Health Nurse working with young offenders. She spent six years living in the south of France. She now writes full time.

Hemmie created the DI Wednesday series, featuring DI Eva Wednesday and DS Jacob Lennox, set in and around Cambridge, with fictional villages. There are four books in the series so far. Hemmie has also written a psychological thriller, Attic of the Mind, and two contemporary women’s fiction, The Divine Pumpkin and Garlic & Gauloises.

Mental health often features in her novels due to her background of forensic mental health nursing. Hemmie is a member of The Crime Writer’s Association.

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