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Books Editorial

gallowsdropbook.jpg Gallows Drop

Mari Hannah, Macmillan

One of the more grisly landmarks in Northumberland is Winter’s Gibbet, near Elsdon. A gallows it’s where the murderer William Winter was done away with in 1791. It also gets a starring role in the sixth novel in the Kate Daniels series. She is a Chief Inspector who finds a young man swinging from the gallows one morning, a young man she had seen the previous day winning a wrestling prize at a local fair. She’s soon on the case, but then again so is DCI James Atkins, her arch nemesis. It’s an interesting set-up but this police procedural never even hits the heights of the humdrum. It’s not helped by Hannah’s writing style in which no cliché is left unturned: teams wait with “bated breath”, people pass driving tests “with flying colours”, listed buildings rise “majestically” and blue eyes are invariably “steely”. And I’ve formed stronger emotional ties with the characters in Cluedo than I did with any of these cardboard cut-outs, who act and speak exactly like characters in a dreary novel would, a novel with precisely nothing to say about the human condition.