Art Of Death (2019) by Laurence Anholt

Kristal Havfreun is a world-renowned performance artist. Her past works involved conceiving her son and also giving birth to that son – a boy cursed with the name Art. Her latest work involves a simulacrum of her naked body floating in a tank of formaldehyde. But when it is unveiled, the sight of a bloody wound in the next reveals the truth – it is Kristal herself who lies dead.

DI Shanti Joyce, recently transferred from London to Yeovil, is trying to rebuild her life and her career. With her team shorthanded, she enlists the currently-on-leave Vincent Caine, the so-called Mindful Detective, a policeman whose philosophical – sorry, mindful outlook has put him at odds with his colleagues. Can the two extreme approaches of the two sleuths combine constructively or clash destructively?

As far as I am aware, this is the first mystery novel by Laurence Anholt – it’s certainly the first in the Mindful Detective series. I was drawn to it due to the compelling quotes from friends-of-the-blog Kate Ellis, Len Tyler and Frances Brody (clearly Lee Child and Peter James were taking a break from plugging every book in sight). It currently sits with 4.8/5 on Amazon, so things bode well, yes?

Well, yes – mostly.

It’s a good read. There are times when I had to question why either of the lead characters had ever made it onto the police force but this is a piece of crime fiction where you have to suspend reality a tad – for example, would such a high profile case really be given to an unpopular newcomer to run, with an understaffed team, other than to set up a book plot?

At the end of the day, this is an enjoyable read, although plot-wise, it suffers a bit from a lack of suspects which certainly helps direct the reader in the vague, if not the precise, direction of the murderer. The writing style makes it an easy read, and the plot keeps moving forward as the pages turn.

There’s a lot of potential in the series, especially as by the end of the tale, the extremes of the two leads seem to have been rounded down a little due to the events of the tale, although I did think one development was perhaps a little too soon, given I presume this is to be a series. But there’s plenty of stuff here that will bring me back to give the next book in the series a try.

Art Of Death is out now in paperback from Little, Brown. Many thanks for the review copy.

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