Welcome to the penultimate stop on the blog tour for Cover Your Tracks by Claire Askew. My thanks to Jenny at Hodder for the opportunity to join and for the fab review copy.
Author : Claire Askew
Title : Cover Your Tracks
Series : DI Helen Birch #3
Pages : 328
Publisher : Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date : August 20, 2020
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
Robertson Bennet returns to Edinburgh after a 25-year absence in search of his parents and his inheritance. But both have disappeared. A quick, routine police check should be enough – and Detective Inspector Helen Birch has enough on her plate trying to help her brother, Charlie, after an assault in prison. But all her instincts tell her not to let this case go. And so she digs.
George and Phamie Bennet were together for a long time. No one can ever really know the secrets kept between husband and wife. But as Birch slowly begins to unravel the truth, terrible crimes start to rise to the surface.
| MY THOUGHTS |
Cover Your Tracks is the third instalment in the DI Helen Birch series but it reads perfectly well as a stand-alone. I should know because I broke my golden rule of always, always, starting a series at the very beginning. There is more than enough information and background to get the gist of things and get the reader up to speed in case, like me, you didn’t read the first two books. Most of this revolves around Birch’s personal life and her brother, Charlie, who’s in prison.
Anyway, to the story of Cover Your Tracks. After 25 years away in America, Robertson Bennett returns to Edinburgh in search of his parents who have either gone missing or are dead. Robertson doesn’t know as he hasn’t been in touch with them for decades. DI Helen Birch has other things on her mind, particularly her brother who’s in prison and has been the victim of an assault. But DI Birch just can’t help herself and is unable to resist the urge to dig into the whereabouts of Bennet’s parents. Little does she know it will take her down a path full of terrible crimes.
I never quite warmed to DI Helen Birch. I found her somewhat stand-offish, maybe slightly arrogant. She seems to think she can get away with whatever she wants. But on the other hand, she has remarkable instincts and she’s fierce and determined. Those things are what make her the excellent detective she is, which meant that despite not really liking her all that much, I did firmly root for her to find out the truth. However, I personally preferred the company of DC Amy Kato, who comes across more warm, kind and gentle.
As for the case of the missing parents, hoo boy! That went in an entirely different direction than I was expecting. It’s in circumstances like these where DI Birch’s gut instinct, stubbornness and determination serve her extremely well. Just when you think there might be nothing to the whole situation, it turns out there’s a whole lot of something and just like that, Cover Your Tracks ended up being delightfully unpredictable.
This isn’t always an easy read, particularly as it pertains to the marriage of Bennet’s parents. And I must admit, I missed some of the more obvious police procedural elements that make a well, a police procedural, I guess. It felt to me as if most of the investigation depended heavily on Birch’s hunches instead of solid investigative work. Yet at the same time, I thought there were at least two instances where she should undoubtedly have picked up a clue and then mind-blowingly didn’t.
Overall though, this crime fiction story set in Edinburgh is well plotted, intriguing and has quite an unexpected ending. This unpredictable case will definitely hold the attention of any crime fiction fan.
Cover Your Tracks is available to buy!
| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |
Claire Askew is a poet, novelist and the current Writer in Residence at the University of Edinburgh. Her debut novel in progress was the winner of the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, and longlisted for the 2014 Peggy Chapman-Andrews (Bridport) Novel Award. Claire holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh and has won a variety of accolades for her work, including the Jessie Kesson Fellowship and a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award.
Her debut poetry collection, This changes things, was published by Bloodaxe in 2016 and shortlisted for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award and a Saltire First Book Award. In 2016 Claire was selected as a Scottish Book Trust Reading Champion, and she works as the Scotland tutor for women’s writing initiatives Write Like A Grrrl! and #GrrrlCon.
Her first novel, All the Hidden Truths, was published in 2018.