Friday, October 17, 2014

FFB: THE VERGE PRACTICE (2003) By Barry Maitland (Chilly October Reading)


Detective Chief Inspector David Brock and Detective Sergeant Kathy Kolla of Scotland Yard are the appealing duo of Barry Maitland's terrific police procedural series which I've just recently begun reading. I'd read one out of sequence (the excellent NO TRACE) a couple of years ago and always meant to go back, but you know how that goes.

The truth is that I've discovered that the books don't have to be read in sequence, anyway, so wherever you begin is good.

Author Barry Maitland was born in Scotland, grew up in London and now lives in Australia. He was a Professor of Architecture at a university there and has since retired from teaching to write full time. This intriguing series set in England, is the happy result. David Brock and Kathy Kolla are an effective team even if they often work separately and Kolla has a seeming penchant for placing herself in danger. There is no romance between them as Brock is quite a bit older than Kolla whose own love life seems to be of the hit or miss variety. (One does wish she'd settle down with 'the right man' but then it wouldn't be a 'modern' sort of series.)

I've lately been in the mood for 'thumping good reads' and THE VERGE PRACTICE is a perfect example - it is imaginatively conceived and executed, the sort of book which draws you immediately into its midst and doesn't let up until the very end (an ending which will definitely leave you wanting more).

I urge you to read this enticing (if slightly far-fetched) thriller even if it is the seventh entry in the series. Trust me, you will not be missing anything important as each book is more or less self-contained. The 'far-fetchedness' I mention is not a fault - it all depends on how likely you are to accept that an ace can be palmed right in front of your face by a very fine magician - metaphorically speaking. There - I can say no more.

When a young wife is found murdered, the husband, naturally enough, is the first suspect. Most especially since said hubby, the famed architect Charles Verge, has disappeared without a trace. The police remain stumped as to his whereabouts. The high profile case draws to a standstill.

It is several months later when Brock and Kolla are asked to delve into the cold case. Expediency is paramount as a brand newly finished prison designed by the missing architect is scheduled to be opened with great fanfare. But if Verge is, indeed, a murderer than his work can't be lauded by personages of the Royal sort, but if it can be proven that Verge is dead, a victim alongside his wife (as his rather imposing mother insists), then all is forgiven and the prison (acknowledged to be Verge's finest work) can be unveiled with proper pomp and circumstance.

As Brock and Kolla delve into the case with fresh eyes, they almost immediately come up with a small something overlooked by the previous detective team. You and I both know that there are no small somethings when it comes to a murder investigation and this first lead in a heretofore unfathomable mystery will soon draw the current investigative team into an even bigger conundrum.

We're in the middle of a case in which nothing is as it first appears, nothing is to be taken at face value. Just when you think you've figured it out, trust me, you haven't. All I can say is that the denouement is a doozy, unlike anything I've ever read before.

A terrific book in keeping with our Chilly October Reading theme.

Link to Barry Maitland's Fantastic Fiction page for a complete listing of his books. Other Barry Maitland books I've read and highly recommend: THE MALCONTENTA, THE CHALON HEADS, SILVERMEADOW, NO TRACE, DARK MIRROR.

And don't forget to check in at Patti Abbott's blog, Pattinase, to see what other Forgotten or Overlooked books other bloggers are talking about today.

14 comments:

  1. Well I'm completely sold Yvette - sounds like it might be worth starting earlier on in the series though if they're all good - is MARX SISTERS the first?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wasn't too impressed with THE MARX SISTERS, Sergio. So I'd begin with THE MALCONTENTA, the second in the series. But who knows, you may like the first one (I'm in the minority with not appreciating as much as others did). But still I'd read THE VERGE PRACTICE and SILVERMEADOW right after that second book. Those are my favorite three so far. But I'll be reading the rest little by little as I go along. Hope to finish them all by the end of the year. Boy, I love a good detective series. Nothing like it. :)

      Delete
  2. New author and series to me and sounds terrific, so I've put a hold on it at the library. Now I have to hurry to read the other three I already have checked out, including two by Bill Crider.

    It is now chilly indeed, and quite rainy, here in Portland OR so this will be just right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Richard I hope you like it as much as I did. Unfortunately it's not chilly here in New Jersey right at the moment. We're having Indian Summer late in the day and NOT appreciated by those of us who love a good chilly Autumn day.

      Let us know how you like the book, if you like it. :)

      Delete
    2. It has just shown up at the library. I'll pick it up tomorrow or the next day, when I've finished my current library book which I am 3/4 through

      Delete
    3. Good. I hope you enjoy it. Let us know. :)

      Delete
  3. 1903 or 2003, it's all the same to me, Yvette! Thanks to you, John, and other blog friends, I discover new writers every week and it isn't doing my reading, already under intense pressure, any good. I'll look out for anything by Barry Maitland.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you mean, Prashant. I am forever feeling left behind in my reading. I try to reduce the pressure by telling myself it's not a competition. :) I think you'd enjoy Barry Maitland's work very much.

      Delete
    2. Says the Book Pusher.... ;-)

      Delete
    3. Oops, this comment should have shown up further up. Speaking as another Book Pusher. :)

      Delete
    4. Oaky, this and HOUSE OF SILK both came from the library today. Oh my, what to do???

      Delete
    5. Read THE VERGE PRACTICE. :)

      Delete
  4. I don't know much about this author, but you've made a nice case for him. I'm usually reluctant to read a series out of order, though, even if you say it's not necessary to read them sequentially. I'm just compulsive that way!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Many people are, Kelly. :) I like to read in order if there's a significant relationship in the series. But when there isn't, I don't mind just jumping in. This is such a terrific book, I'd say, don't put it off.

    ReplyDelete

Your comment will appear after I take a look.