DCI Cyril Bennett is struggling to come to terms with the devastating events from his last case when a murder takes place in the world of art and as we know, that is right up his street…
The Harrogate Crime Series #5
Beware the unquenchable thirst of avarice for greed leads to corruption and, eventually, murder …
Whilst DCI Cyril Bennett is trying to find a way to handle his feelings of grief and guilt, Detective Sergeant Owen has to step up when a woman is found dead.
It transpires that what was thought to be a car accident is, in fact, a murder. Nathalie Gray, the victim, worked for Freshman’s Fine Art Dealers and DS Owen heartily wishes his boss was on this case as it just was made for DCI Bennett, with the Northern art scene, galleries, and auctions, all in the mix.
For the time being, the capable Detective Inspector Helen Claire leads the investigation but even she wonders whether it would not be better if DCI Bennett was back in office …
DS David Owen is only too aware of his boss’s struggle and feels helpless and sad at the same time. His world, too, has been shattered by the outcome of their last case (Game Point, book #4) but he knows they could not have prevented any of the tragic events. He would love to see Cyril Bennett back but is realistic enough to not harbour any grudges when DI Helen Claire steps in as his temporary boss, especially when a young woman is found murdered.
Nathalie Gray worked for “the obnoxious” Freeman Freshman, who has antagonised the Police with his unflattering and rude remarks. Nathalie was an art expert as well as a skilful painter and conservator of paintings. Freshman’s team further consists of art experts Dr Darwin Green, responsible for finding ‘sleepers’ (paintings that have gone unnoticed but are worth a lot) and Lynn McGowen, in charge of provenance (the history of a painting).
Things become complicated when the team are close to catching the killer but the perpetrator disappears, only to surface later in less than pleasant circumstances. This causes the investigation to halt and, with no leads to follow, to re-examine the evidence and facts. Why was Nathalie a target? Her laptop, as well as two paintings by Northern artists, have gone missing. Nathalie’s father has no idea what is going on.
Although DS Owen tries to get a grip on the case, he wishes DCI Bennett were back as he would know his way around the art world. When gallery owner Posthumus, Bennett’s friend and the man from whom he has bought many a painting during the years, asks him to investigate a break-in, DCI Bennett obliges. What at first seems a straightforward burglary turns into a nightmare involving dubious art dealers, suspicions of forgery, a man gone missing and ruthless criminals willing to kill to quench their ever-growing greed.
When I saw Cyril Bennett at his most vulnerable struggling with death following what happened in Game Point (The Harrogate Crime Series #4), I was very moved. The author has provided us with an excellent authentic insight into the torture of psyche and spirit caused by guilt.
I loved the concept of judging events in hindsight by taking them apart, only looking at one event at a time instead of regarding them as a whole. Speaking of guilt, in this thriller, nobody is who he/she seems and if you think you know who is guilty – you are wrong.
Malcolm Hollingdrake’s protagonist is growing on me and becoming more of an all-rounded character with each successive book. Cyril Bennet is an endearing character: on the one side shrewd, never missing a clue, good at his job but, on the other hand, a man who trusts easily and perhaps naively never thinks anything but the best of his friends.
May I suggest you do not read this book in one session? The atmospheric descriptions need to be absorbed. The words and sentences lingered in my mind before I was brought back to earth when another crime was committed.
This fifth book in the series fits our charming Cyril Bennett like a glove because of the team having to dive into the art world – who better to do so than our Detective Chief Inspector, a collector of paintings by Northern artists, who loves to attend auctions?
His right hand, DS David Owen, is more self-assured and his professional ability seems to grow (as well as his clumsiness with tea!). The pathologist, Dr Julie Pritchett, is very much impressed with Owen who, contrary to Bennett, has no difficulty attending an autopsy.
I love Dying Art, not least because of the erudite writing style with the beautiful sentences but also because the author’s knowledge of art and love for Northern art shines through on almost every page of this detective thriller. The plot is intricate and enthralling and nothing is what it seems in the art world where the greed of corrupt art dealers blights the enjoyment of art for art’s sake.
Needless to say, The Harrogate Crime Series comes highly recommended! Just one more thing: the series is set in Harrogate – and it is no coincidence that Harrogate is being mentioned in the book (DS Owen’s mug) – Dying Art is published just before the 2017 Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival, annually held in .. Harrogate. Where else?!
Books by Malcolm Hollingdrake
The Harrogate Crime Series:
#1 Only the Dead – my review
#2 Hell’s Gate – my review
#3 Flesh Evidence – my review
#4 Game Point – my review
#5 Dying Art – my review
#6 Crossed Out – my review
#7 The Third Breath – my review
#8 Treble Clef
About the Author
If you are born in a library … no wonder you have it in you to be an author one day! That is what happened to Malcolm Hollingdrake and although he took a circuitous route via a teaching career, once challenged to do so, he started writing vigorously. Malcolm has written a number of successful short stories and is currently working on the sixth book in the DCI Bennett Series. Malcolm enjoys collecting works from Northern artists and attending art auctions, just like his protagonist Cyril Bennett. Malcolm Hollingdrake cherishes his home county, which is why his series of crime novels are set in Harrogate.
Malcolm Hollingdrake on Social Media:
Author Website: malcolmhollingdrakeauthor.co.uk
FB Page: www.facebook.com/AuthorMalcolmHollingdrake/
Amazon Author Page: http://author.to/MalcolmHollingdrake