Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Orchestrated Death by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
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 https://www.cynthiaharrodeagles.com
Orchestrated Death by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. Avon Books, 1991. 266p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I bought a copy of the book.