Thursday 30 May 2019

Review ~ In Two Minds by Alis Hawkins

The Dome Press
2 May 2019

Teifi Valley Coroner #2

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Harry Probert-Lloyd, a young barrister forced home from London by encroaching blindness, has begun work as the acting coroner of Teifi Valley with solicitor's clerk John Davies as his assistant.

When a faceless body is found on an isolated beach, Harry must lead the inquest. But his dogged pursuit of the truth begins to ruffle feathers. Especially when he decided to work alongside a local doctor with a dubious reputation and experimental theories considered radical and dangerous. Refusing to accept easy answers might not only jeopardise Harry's chance to be elected coroner permanently but could, it seems implicate his own family in a crime.

My thoughts..

Those who have read the first book in the Teifi Valley Coroner series will be familiar with lead characters, Harry Probert-Lloyd and his assistant Harry Davies, and in this second book we meet up with them again just as Harry has taken over the role of acting Coroner for this corner of rural Wales. When a body of a man is found washed up on the beach, it's not only his horrific injuries which causes problems but also Harry's involvement in the investigation upsets a few people as not everyone approves of the way he is conducting the enquiry. 

In Two Minds has a really authentic feel and cleverly combines both history and mystery in a story which is filled with lots of twists and turns. I like the way that the author gives us both Harry's and John's views in individual chapters which, sort of, reiterates the two minds of the title, and shows us that Harry and John's relationship is still evolving. The story also highlights the dilemma of those people who are eking out a living in struggling rural communities, and who are undecided about their future in Wales, and for some the prospect of emigration to America is a real possibility.

The author writes well and continues to pay close attention to historical detail. I can definitely see a lovely progression with both Harry and John's characters and I enjoy the way they work together, not always seeing eye to eye, especially with John's burning resentment towards his lowly station in life, and Harry's growing discomfort at being from the local gentry. 

Whilst this is the second book in the series it is perfectly possible to read it as an enjoyable standalone historical mystery. The author includes references to Harry and John's background which makes it easier to pick up on their relationship and we get to know the reasons why Harry relies on John in certain situations.

I can only see this series going from strength to strength and I look forward to meeting up with Harry Probert-Lloyd and John Davies in future Teifi Valley Coroner stories.

Alis Hawkins grew up on a dairy farm in Cardiganshire. Her inner introvert thought it would be a good idea to become a shepherd and, frankly, if she had, she might have been published sooner. As it was, three years reading English at Corpus Christi College, Oxford revealed an extrovert streak and a social conscience which saw her train as a Speech and Language Therapist. She has spent the subsequent three decades variously bringing up two sons, working with children and young people on the autism spectrum and writing fiction, non-fiction and plays. She writes the kind of books she likes to read: character-driven historical crime and mystery fiction with what might be called literary production values.

Twitter  @Alis_Hawkins #InTwoMinds


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