I met Fiona McIntosh at an event in Hervey Bay a few years ago. I didn’t know much about her work then as I was still fairly new to book blogging and most of the books for which she’s well-known (The Perfumer’s Secret, The Chocolate Tin and The Pearl Thief – to name her most recent releases) are outside of my usual reading genre.
I did know however – in addition to fantasy and historical fiction – she’s written about the art of novel writing and has been conducting writing masterclasses for some time.
Her Australian publisher is re-releasing a crime fiction series McIntosh published under the pseudonym Lauren Crow, which is right up my reading alley!
Bye Bye Baby
by Fiona McIntosh
Series: DCI Jack Hawksworth #1
Published by Penguin Random House Australia
on January 8th 2019
Source: Penguin Random House Australia
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
ISBN: B07GVB9KBR, 9780143794851
A spate of seemingly unconnected murders in southern England prompt a high-profile taskforce to be formed and led by DCI Jack Hawksworth, one of the Force’s new rising stars who combines modern methods with old-school instincts.
The victims appear as disparate as their style of death; the only link that Hawk and his team can pull together is that the murdered are all men of an identical age. The taskforce has nothing but cold cases of decades past to comb through in the hope that they might find a clue to who is behind the savagery.
I haven’t read her more recent work but suspect McIntosh’s writing has evolved in the 12 years since this book was originally published as I found early parts of the novel a tad wordy or over-explanatory. I stopped being aware of the writing part-way though so it must have become less obvious or I got accustomed to it.
However, I really liked the characters she offered us and – though we meet the ‘baddie’ early on and we’re privy to the motives for the murders – she keeps some elements hidden so there are a few twists and turns. And after a slightly slow start, we readers are drawn into the more-complex-than-expected plot.
I was initially concerned about the pacing as this book (at over 500 pages) is long. It felt as if we were nearing a climax midway through and I wondered if the last half of the book might drag but McIntosh throws in quite a few surprises, including one around the three-quarter mark that I did not see coming. It meant that I wasn’t able to put it aside when planned, but I had to keep reading.
I really liked our lead Jack and his colleagues. Jack in particular is startlingly popular which I really appreciated as it was a change from the grouchy cops we so often meet. His likeability is almost his greatest liability, but… it has to be said… he’s a great and very encouraging boss.
There’s reference to a bit of backstory regarding some trouble in his past and initially I was worried I’d missed something as there’s minimal explanation. However it’s reintroduced later in the book and I suspect she’s whetting our appetite and more will be revealed in the next novel. I also enjoyed the relationship he has with his boss as it’s refreshing when a copper gets on with their ‘guvnor’. And of course there’s Jack’s charismatic neighbour and the potential role she will play in his life.
I’m looking forward to the next in this series and of course, as this is a re-publication, we won’t have to wait the usual timeframes (a year or so) between books; and I already have number two in my hot little hand. (Indeed, at the moment I’m depressed there are only two books in the series!)
Bye Bye Baby by Fiona McIntosh was (re) published by Penguin Random House and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.