Thursday, December 26, 2019

Book Review: 'The Body in the Ditch (DI Tremayne Thriller Series Book 8)' by Phillip Strang

The Body in the Ditch by Phillip Strang

‘We all fall down’

Australian author Phillip Strang has gained his platform as an adventure writer through his career installing telecommunications networks in many remote and exotic parts of the globe, including time spent in Afghanistan and Pakistan - an experience that allowed him to gain direct insights in to the ongoing conflicts there. He has also spent considerable time in Africa including Liberia, Nigeria, and Guinea. It is this direct contact with troubled countries that gives his books intense credibility: he has first hand contact with the events he shares in his books such as DI TREMAYNE Thriller Series, of which this is Book 8 – the first books are DEATH UNHOLY, DEATH AND THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE, DEATH AND THE LUCKY MAN, DEATH AT COOMBE FARM, DEATH BY A DEAD MAN’S HAND, DEATH IN THE VILLAGE, BURIAL MOUND, and now THE BODY IN THE DITCH.

But it takes more than on the spot witness to bring the story Phillip has written to life in the format of a book - and that is where he towers above others creating novels with similar storylines. To bring a story of this magnitude into focus it is imperative that the foundation of the place and the people are presented accurately in order to bring the terror that is to come to meaningful life. Phillip sets his stage well from the very first page, with an ominous echo of children at play: ‘The four girls seemed oblivious to those around them as they stood in a circle holding hands and dancing, dropping to the ground at the end of each verse. Sergeant Clare Yarwood – she had retained her maiden name in the police force after her marriage even though she had been married to Clive Grantley for four months – looked over at them. The scene troubled her. Inspector Tremayne took no notice, not out of disinterest, but to him, seeing young children playing games was part of his generation, not Clare’s. Nowadays, they were more interested in messaging each other, playing with their iPads and smartphones ’ Scene set with only a hint of what is to come.

The story is distilled well in Phillip’s synopsis: ‘A group of children play. Not far away, in the ditch on the other side of the farmyard, the body of a young woman. The nearby village hides as many secrets as the community at the farm, a disparate group of people looking for an alternative to their previous torturous lives. Their leader, idealistic and benevolent, espouses love and kindness, and somebody’s not following his dictate. The second death, an old woman, seems unrelated to the first, but is it? Is it part of the tangled web that connects the farm to the village? The village, Detective Inspector Tremayne and Sergeant Clare Yarwood find out soon enough, is anything but charming and picturesque. It’s a hotbed of intrigue and wrongdoing, and what of the farm and those who live there. None of them can be ruled out, not yet.

Elegant writing and a keen sense of suspense – this is another Phillip Strang winner!

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.