Three of Michael Gilbert’s titles are republished by the British Library this year – Death in Captivity, Smallbone Deceased and Death Has Deep Roots. My first Gilbert read was Death in Captivity. It is a locked-room mystery – a man is found dead in a tunnel at a POWs camp. If you haven’t read Death in Captivity, I highly recommend you to do so.
The second Gilbert book I read was Smallbone Deceased. This is more of a legal thriller. And so is Death Has Deep Roots. I am not very comfortable reading legal mishmash in crime fiction. But once in a while, I do venture out of my comfort zone.
The story starts with the London crowd awaiting the trial of Victoria Lamartine, hotel worker, ex-French resistance fighter and the only suspect/accused in Major Thoseby’s murder. The girl’s fingerprints were found on the knife that was used to kill the Major. She was also the one who found his body. When her council sees no hope in defending their client, she asks for another – Rumbold. The father-son duo lawyers take up her case. Nap, the son, has his doubts With no time to spare, Nap travels to France in search of clues.
If I have choose a favourite of the three books I have read so far, I would choose Death in Captivity. Smallbone Deceased is interesting too. But I wish I could say the same about Death Has Deep Roots.
The story started on a good note. Victoria, Nap, McCann and many others, they all have interesting things to do or say. But as the story proceeds, it gets a tad dull and boring. Nap’s ‘encounter’ perked up the story a bit but the fella disappears until the end – bummer!
The hotel staff or guests weren’t fully investigated so Nap knows that something’s amiss. Vicky, as she’s known as, might very well be innocent. The father of her dead child – Julian Wells was captured by the Gestapo during the war. Though he’s believed to be dead, his body was never found. Meanwhile, the farm in which the resistance fighters were cooped up is now sold and the two brothers who owned it previously are nowhere to be found. Is there a foul play here?
The story alternates between courtroom drama and investigations. I liked the investigation part better – mainly because courtroom dramas tend to be tediously long and a tad dull. (Well, it’s my opinion, you see) I felt that things ended way too soon and this is the only niggle I had with the story. A lot of effort was put in to build the right atmosphere – be it the courtroom proceedings or the investigations by Nap and McCann – and before you know, the story concludes. For me, a good ending is what makes the read enjoyable. I expected more from this story and was a bit disappointed with the hurried-up ending.
If you like courtroom dramas in crime fiction, I recommend you to give this book a try. My blog buddies Laurie and Kate liked this book more than I did. You can read their reviews here:
Writing Style: 4/5
Character Development: 3.5/5
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Title: Death Has Deep Roots
Author: Michael Gilbert
Republished by Poisoned Pen Press on 5th November 2019
Genre: Crime/Mystery and Thrillers
Many thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for the ARC.