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Land Rites by Andy Maslen
Narrator: Steve West
Series: Detective Ford #2
Published by Thomas & Mercer on April 8, 2021
After a dog walker discovers human remains in a badger sett in the idyllic Salisbury countryside, DI Ford is called in to lead the ensuing murder investigation. When a second victim turns up in a nearby pond, Ford is determined to find the connection.
Both victims met their fate near the sprawling Alverchalke Estate, ancestral home of a decorated war hero and his family. One was a dogged eco-activist and vocal critic of Lord Baverstock. The other was a petty criminal and poacher, youngest brother of a notorious local crime family. Certain that there’s more to this case than trespassing, Ford and Dr Hannah Fellowes race to find the hidden link.
Still consumed by guilt over his part in his wife’s tragic accident and struggling to raise the teenage son, Ford now finds himself losing control of the investigation.
I started this Detective Ford series, because Steve West was narrating, but a British police mystery is a favorite genre as well. The main character is a single dad, who lost his wife in a tragic accident. He has felt considerable grief and guilt. Now six years later, Ford has a teenage son and a promotion. In my head, Steve West is the main character although I am pretty sure the character is older than him.
I love the layers in the writing. The world building has the police force with its detectives, forensic teams and gun squads. There is both political and personal developments. Ford has a female partner who he respects. The new forensic team member has Asperger’s. His direct boss is also a woman and he knows how to present information for her. He works well and appreciates all these women. Interestingly the men on the team are more problematic with one going through a divorce and one wanting to do more than his experience warrants.
The case of two murders has a number of problems. Firstly, it runs up against the aristocratic class being witnesses or suspects which is politically tricky. Then one of the victims is the younger brother of some local toughs who want to take matters into their own hands. Plus it seems like there is someone in the department leaking information to the suspects / witnesses.
Ford is also still dealing with his guilt over his wife’s death. Now his son Sam wants to go climbing for a school trip and since that is a factor in his wife’s death, he is uncomfortable. But he does a great job of looking at the evidence and trying out all the theories without regards to politics or class issues. It’s a complex and exciting case. I really loved Land Rites and can’t wait for more.
Steve West is my favorite narrator. Since the main character DI Ford is male and this story is his point of view, it fit well. Sometimes it bothers me to hear a narrator as other characters but that hasn’t been an issue with Steve West. The characters don’t sound just the same. The character voices for males and females were distinct and well performed. I listened comfortably at my usual 1.5x speed.
Listen to a clip: HERE
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