Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Crime and its hopeful punishment, the restoration of justice in a world that at times barely even sees the word as anything but a triviality, of open ended reasoning and deduction; sometimes the world is just too blind to see how truth gets in the way of the facts and that neglect of a single person can not only lead them to feeling invisible but also on the fringes of society enough where their actions have no thought of possible reprisals.
It is a subject matter that Sally-Anne Tapia Bowes has quite obviously taken very much to heart and given absolute consideration to in her second book Her Father.
The idea of justice is a strong one, it is what after all drives the genre of the murder mystery in the hearts of all who secretly yearn to play the armchair detective; yet it is also one in which can be inverted, if portrayed correctly, that the reader recognises the clues to which the detective is shown and yet already is armed with the knowledge for whom the murderer is. It is in that inversion, popular with the likes of Colombo fans, that Her Father excels within. The reader is challenged to feel any sympathy for the murderer, to feel empathy at the absolute lack of healthy interaction that they have faced, the lies that have left them broken and almost degraded; it is not an emotion that many can face without the pangs of revulsion striking home, the gut retching realisation of what they actually are, a murderer, pure and simple, a taker of lives.
The effect Ms. Tapia-Bowes achieves is very much in the same realm as Ruth Rendell’s 13 Steps Down, you are there from the very beginning, you are in the murderer’s head but you ache for restoration, that singular effect of knowing that the murderer will not get away with their crime.
Her Father is a book that is not only excellently paced but also brings the areas surrounding Southport to life, a novel that captures life and death in the same bitter hold, that makes the area in which the tale is set as part of the criminal act and which too often is overlooked in the crime genre; always hiding the real life extremities of a town or village within the plain site of a made up town or village.
A Noir without perhaps intending to be one but in which the basic elements of the genre fit perfectly in a jigsaw fashion; Ms. Tapia-Bowles certainly knows her audience and her character’s minds well.
Ian D. Hall