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Review: DCI Sophie Allen series of crime novels

I have found reading a wheen of penny dreadfuls (or pennies dreadful) in Covid Limbo very restful and absorbing. Way back in January and about seven books ago, The Wonderful World of Kindle recommended an eight-book set by one Michael Hambling, a man. While this went against my long-term policy of reading only or mostly women writers to counter-balance the hegemony of the DWMs and BOFs, I liked the blurb and bought the lot for 99p!

The main attraction is the lead character, DCI Sophie Allen. So many ‘tec bosses are stereotypically abrasive, moody, damaged or, like Susan Hill’s Simon Serrailler, the cerebral tortured type to whom I just want to give a slap across the chops and a Stern Talking To (not that I haven’t enjoyed every one of the books).

DCI Allen looks after her team; she brings on the youngsters; she won’t tolerate bigotry in any of its forms. She also deals well with Them Above. Other female characters are well-drawn – there are no stereotypical cardboard cutouts. The books are well-written, by which I mean they don’t annoy the bejaysus out of me with simplistic repetitive language (I tried to read a Harry Potter once) nor does Mr Hambling commit that irksome solecism ‘bored of’ which drives me to say rude things to the Paperwhite, though I know it’s not her fault. Don’t shoot the messenger

The series is set in the South West – no not Dumfries & Galloway, the other one. There’s that sense of place you get with Ian Rankin and Edinburgh. There is a very enjoyable Glossary of English Slang for US readers which is worth reading for itself. 

I enjoyed these books immensely, though I am becoming convinced that huge tracts of the two kingdoms and the Principality are populated only by the ghosts of all the murdered . . .”