I'm not a fan of crime thrillers, at all, but having followed Dr. Magnanti's previous works I was very interested to read The Turning Tide. I wasn't disappointed. The story opens with the discovery of a body in the highlands and takes us on a journey, introducing us to some very rich and diverse characters along the way.
A good story teller will involve you in the plot, so that you identify with at least one of the characters and will them to get it right. That's very much the case with this book and there are twists which keep the reader engaged and the pages turning. What stands out for me is the attention to detail, Dr. Magnanti has in the past worked in pathology, and it shows in the fascinating if somewhat macabre account of a post-mortem. For fans of Dr. Magnanti's previous works under the pseudonym Belle, let me be the first to disappoint you. This isn't sexy, at all, but then crime thrillers generally aren't. Still, I expect there will be the usual suspects popping up to suggest she is now glamourising death. Far from glamorous, I found myself staring dolefully at my lunch, on at least two occasions.
The Turning Tide has something for everyone, political corruption, spin, the workings of the press corps and of course greed, the motive behind many crimes. Erykah is a fighter, at every step of the way she is in danger of her past engulfing her present and dictating her future. Rather than allow that to happen, she harnesses that past to enter the murky underworld and utilise other skills, such as code breaking. I felt for Erykah as each door closed and if anyone can relate to a secret past coming up it's Dr. Magnanti. But Erykah is made of strong stuff, and kicked new doors open where necessary. In this respect I feel The Turning Tide excels, there is a serious lack of strong women in crime fiction. It's not as if strong women don't exist, we're surrounded by them. Mary Wollstonecraft, Margaret Fuller, Emily Murphy, Eleanor Roosevelt - these are all women who changed the world. Is it too much to ask that women be given stronger roles in crime fiction too?
There were moments when I fleetingly doubted the credibility of the story, with particular reference to the lottery win, before remembering that many government enquiries and tribunals have uncovered less slick corruption in far bigger parties. So, perhaps not so incredible after all. I believe it was Mark Twain who said, 'Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn't.' It has to be said that I truly enjoyed the character Morag, a politician from the Highlands who is a truly terrible human, zero interest in her constituents and so bad you almost like her.
I recommend The Turning Tide as a rewarding and engaging read and look forward to what Dr. Magnanti brings us next.