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    Outstanding

    Behind Closed Doors #1 I discovered Beatrice Stubbs, accidentally as part of a collection, which meant I started by reading #2 in the series. I enjoyed that so much I bought this box set and fed my completest compulsion by reading Behind Closed Doors, re-reading Raw Material. It’s stood up unusually well to what’s been a relatively recent re-read. I’ve now completed #3 Tread Softly. My favourite thriller / procedural novel type has a strong female lead. One that is convincingly human and real, who isn’t the classic maverick detective, but works as a cog in a team, supporting her colleagues, just like in real life. Oh, and she needs to have some flaws. I need them to be written honestly, with interactions, opinions and emotions that echo people I know. As a bonus I’d like to find them entertaining enough to spend time with in person (it’s fiction; I can pretend she’d want to spend time with me). I don't think this is too demanding of me (!) but I do struggle to find novels that tick all those boxes Beatrice has all this in spades. So, JJ Marsh can create the perfect (in her imperfections) character, but can she write plot? Or create a sense of place? Or suspense? Yes. This she can do, excellently. Beatrice’s partner works and lives in Devon. Rather close to me as it happens. I can vouch for the sense of place. Plot? Suspense? Well. The first novel has a serial killer that would appear to be acting as an assassin, and doing so with a sense of morality. Despite the majority of the killings having happened already, there is another in the planning. Spoiler alert – I wasn’t sure who the target was going to be and I stayed up later than I should have at night, and neglected my jobs in the morning to try and squeeze precious moments of extra reading in. Always a good sign. That was the case for all three of the novels Raw Material #2 is another really well written police procedural/whodunnit/thriller. All the characters are convincing and well rounded. Two lines of enquiry, both properly gripping. I wanted to stop everything else to keep reading. Particularly joyful to have a novel filled with strong and realistic women Tread Softly #3 again was a novel that I couldn’t put down. It picks up where Raw Material ended, and we have even more insight in to Beatrice’s mind, which, I feel is really insightfully written. It’s rare to have a lead who’s bipolar and the thought patterns and coping processes are written with understanding and knowledge. This has been done incredibly convincingly and demonstrates, that mental illness is a condition that one can live with, successfully provided one pays proper attention – in the same way that, for example, diabetes is a condition that people live with, successfully and daily. Neither should be, nor needs to be a barrier to a successful career. This is demonstrated in an extremely effective and subtle way throughout all these 3 novels. JJ Marsh should be incredibly proud of having achieved this. The plot in this novel has another woman pairing up with Beatrice (this happens all the time in reality – why’s it so rare in literature?!) who is everything a young woman would aspire to be. Again I didn’t want to put the book down as I was terribly worried for Ana at a couple of points, with one of them being really well drawn out. I’m posting this review and then I’m downloading the next box set. All my jobs will have to wait! In case you are interested - I give 5 stars to books I want to reread and often buy as gifts after reading AND want to buy the whole of the author's back catalogue, 4 to ones I immediately want to buy the entire back history and 3 to books I enjoy but don't quite meet those criteria. If something doesn't at least meet a 3 star, then I won't review it - I don't have the skill or the talent to write so who am I to criticise someone who does
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