Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Orchestrated Death by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

I didn't know how the first Bill Slider mystery would hold up. I hadn't read any of the books in the series when I received the most recent one, Headlong, for review. I'm a fan of police procedurals, and this book introduced me to a group of fascinating characters, Detective Inspector Bill Slider and his team. So, I went back and picked up the first one, Orchestrated Death. There might have been a little more cop humor in the latest book, but this first book serves as an outstanding launch to the series.

Slider is approaching burnout, in his career and his marriage. He's been married for fifteen years to Irene, has two children, but his sergeant, Jim Atherton, and others, warned him. Don't marry a woman without a sense of humor. She's disappointed in his lack of career trajectory, and his lack of interest in moving up in society. And, she harangues him, saying no one in the police department respects him.

Perhaps burnout is why Slider takes their new case so personally. He and Atherton are sent to an empty flat where the body of a young naked woman has been found. There's no identification, nothing in the flat, but Atherton recognizes a mark on the woman's neck. She was a violinist, "a fiddle-player". In the course of Slider's investigation, he learns that she sat beside another violinist, Joanna Marshall, in the orchestra. When Slider meets Joanna to interview her about the young woman, Anne-Marie Austen, he and Joanna are immediately attracted to each other.

For the first time in his life, Slider allows his personal life to take him away from a case, but the station is able to track him down when they want to report the death of a witness. It's a difficult case, and the killer seems to always be one step ahead of Slider. Even when higher ups shut down the case and pull Slider from it, he still wants to find justice for the victim, Anne-Marie Austen.

The reader gets to know Bill Slider through his own feelings, but, first, through the eyes of Sergeant Jim Atherton. He sees him as dogged, thorough, a good policeman, and a good man. He's reserved, and doesn't make friends easily. He depends on the assistance of Atherton. Atherton views him as exactly what he seems to be - decent, kindly, honest, hard-working, maybe overconscientious. That decency and tendency to be overconscientious will bother Slider right now in his new relationship with Joanna, and as he continues to seek answers to the latest case. Even his father knows Bill has an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, is indecisive, and has a tendency to worry about what he couldn't change.

Slider impresses me as a police officer, and as a human being. He can't move on from his sympathy for the victim. He says, "That's the terrible thing about my job. By its very nature, almost everything I do is done too late." Slider's thoughts when he attends Anne-Marie's funeral are, "Funerals above all reminded you that there was no going back, that every day something was taken from you that you could never have back."

Orchestrated Death was a sound introduction to a character I didn't really get to know in Headlong. I'm a fan of police procedurals, especially ones set in England, and I read for character. I'm ready to dive headlong into Bill Slider's world. I've already started the second book, Death Watch.

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles' website is

Orchestrated Death by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. Avon Books, 1991. 266p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought a copy of the book.


Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I'm so glad you liked this as much as I did. It will take a few books for Slider and Joanna to get their personal lives straightened out, but the relationship between Slider and Atherton is already there in book one.

You've hit two of my favorites in a row - Salvo Montalbano and Bill Slider. Lots of good reading to come in both series.

Lesa said...

Jeff, I'm loving the Slider books. I'm actually already in the third one. Love the characters. I should finish the third one tonight, and the second omnibus is to arrive today! Yay! I'm so happy that LJ sent me recent copies in both series.

Margie Bunting said...

Lesa, I've read four books in this series, and so far Body Line has been my favorite. Enjoy!

Diane said...

I too am a fan. Started a few years ago and now keep up with the series. Fortunately my library usually gets them so I don't have to wait until I can buy used at cheaper prices. I find that the libraries I download from do not carry this author and series.
I am not a shopper BUT I do buy books!! Wonder how much I have spent in my lifetime? Oh well keeps me out of trouble.

Lesa said...

Well, darn, Margie. Even though it's arriving today, I'm going to have to take a break for a little while. My Library Journal box of June releases arrived today, too. I'm loving this series.

Lesa said...

Even though I now order the books for our library, Diane, I'm not going back to order all of the ones we don't have. So, I've been buying them. That's a good question. I don't even want to know how much I spend in a year on books.

Netteanne said...

So happy that you enjoy Bill Slider and the crew at Shepherds Bush; I am waiting for the latest to arrive in my holds. I have read everyone of them and had forgotten how Bill and Joanna met. Irene is very irritating.

Lesa said...

Irene is irritating even in the first book, Netteanne. You're right. I'm loving the team & Joanne.

SallyM said...

Fortunately, I started this series with Orchestrated Death in 1992 (don't know when it was published) and have read them in order since then. One of my very favorite series. I love the relationships between the characters and that they care about each other. Also, love the humor.

Lesa said...

Somehow I missed it Sally, but now I have the enjoyment of meeting them!

Nicola said...

Lucky you Lisa with all those books to read. Slider books are one of the few hardbacks I buy as can’t wait to read them. Then I give the book to my library.

Lesa said...

I do feel lucky, Nicola. I'm loving these books!