4 out of 4 stars
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Having recently transferred to the small town of Fenwick, England, Inspector John Marshall is looking forward to investigating and policing matters that are less horrific and gruesome than he’d seen in his previous position in London. The fact that the entire Fenwick CID was just replaced with all new personnel six months ago is something he chooses not to worry about … at first.
Then one January night, in a tremendous winter gale, someone calls in to report a dead albino woman found in a ditch. When he gets there to investigate, he finds a deceased dark-haired man instead. He has no obvious cause of death and has been placed to look as if he’s resting peacefully. That’s not the only death reported that night. A local farmer has also been murdered on his property, and his teenage daughter is reported missing. As Marshall follows the twists and turns of the case, his investigation leads him to deal with gypsies camping on the farmer’s land, an old library with a mysterious librarian, and a boy who’s been having strange visions and dreams. In solving this case, he just might have to accept that some things cannot be explained by science or logic.
Journeyman: An Inspector Marshall Mystery by Emma Melville is a crime thriller with folkloric and supernatural elements. Although the author has written short stories involving Inspector Marshall in the past, this is her first full-length novel. The book includes a host of interesting characters, from Marshall and his Sergeant, Mark Sherbourne, to various gypsies, as well as the ordinary townsfolk of Fenwick, including two teenage boys who always seem to find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. The point of view alternates between many different characters in a way that shows the reader what is going on in different areas at the same time. Because of this, the reader enjoys being a step or two ahead of Marshall at times, but there is still enough suspense to keep you guessing up until the end of the book.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The pace was quick and exciting throughout, and the various points of view really kept all the parts of the story moving forward. Characters who were seemingly unrelated at the beginning of the book all intertwined as the novel went on, giving me several “aha!” moments throughout the story. I also really liked the collection of characters, from the policemen to the gypsies to the unlucky teenagers. Getting to know so many of them allows the reader to really get to know their personalities and motivations. They are all given interesting backstories and personal strengths and weaknesses, making them very realistic.
The supernatural elements of the book were cleverly done. At the beginning of the book, it seemed like it could be your average murder mystery. As things progressed and certain elements of the case became harder to explain, I realized along with Inspector Marshall that something very odd was going on in Fenwick. It is written in such a way that readers must join Marshall in suspending belief and accepting what their senses are really telling them. I love being able to put myself in a novel and feel what the characters are feeling, and I think the book did a fantastic job of that.
I can’t find much to complain about with Journeyman. If I had to be picky, I would note that there were a handful of typos, but they were not pervasive or overly distracting enough to ruin my enjoyment of the novel. I am happy to rate the book 4 out of 4 stars, and I hope this will not be the last of the Inspector Marshall Mystery series. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy fast-paced crime novels or books that deal with magic and folklore.
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