First of all, a huge thank you to the author Claire Askew for sending me a copy of her latest novel. She knows how much I love DI Helen Birch who lives, as I may have mentioned before, just down the road from me on Portobello Prom. Well, in the fictional world she does. Just have a read at what the book’s about and I’m sure that you will be desperate to read more! A Matter of Time is published by Hodder Books and available now in hardback, ebook and audiobook formats.
About the book
At 8am the first shots are fired.
At 1pm, the police establish the gunman has a hostage.
By 5pm, a siege is underway.
At 9pm, DI Helen Birch walks, alone and unarmed, into an abandoned Borders farmhouse to negotiate with the killer.
The outstanding new novel from the highly acclaimed author of All the Hidden Truths and What You Pay For – both shortlisted for the CWA Golden Dagger.
Well my goodness this was a gripping and tense read! DI Helen Birch is not on her usual turf in this book which sees her called in to deal with a hostage situation in a remote Borders farmhouse. She has no experience of negotiating but the gunman has specifically asked for her. Why, she has no idea. As her boss DCI McLeod says though, “Helen I have complete and utter faith in your abilities. You’re a damn fine officer and, if I may say so, highly adept at getting just about anything you want. I can’t think of a better person to send in and talk to raving madman.“.
At the heart of the matter are the continuing reverberations from the foot and mouth outbreak of 2001. I can distinctly remember driving to a holiday in Cumbria that Autumn and seeing the plumes of smokes from the pyres of cattle which had been slaughtered. At a time when we are living with another feared disease, it is easy to understand the devastating impact this had and the trauma caused, particularly for the farming community at the time.
We follow Helen hour by hour throughout the day and there are a few chapters showing the mainstream media and social media coverage too. This builds up a feeling of tension and gives a sense of just how long those hours would feel to Helen. She has put herself willingly in real danger and it’s heart-in-mouth stuff.
And then, suddenly, Claire Askew takes her story hurtling towards its conclusion in a nail biting few pages! A Matter of Time is tense, compelling and surprisingly emotional at times, particularly in scenes involving Helen’s partner Anjan and her dad, Jamieson. It ends on quite the cliffhanger and I do hope we don’t have to wait too long for book 5!
About the Author
Claire Askew is an award-winning poet and novelist. Her debut novel, All the Hidden Truths, won the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress, and was selected as a Times Crime Book of the Month. Claire has won numerous other accolades for her work, including the Jessie Kesson Fellowship and a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award. She lives in Edinburgh.