A satisfying, delightful, engaging read
Regular readers of my book reviews will know I’m a big fan of crime writer JJ Marsh. So my expectations were high when I came to read Bad Apples, the sixth and final book in the DI Beatrice Stubbs series. My high expectations were more than met but I was also gutted that this was to be Beatrice’s last case. However this meant I savoured it all the more.
Back Cover Blurb: Acting DCI Beatrice Stubbs is representing Scotland Yard at a police conference in Portugal. Her task is to investigate a rumour – a ghostwritten exposé of European intelligence agencies – and discover who is behind such a book.
Hardly a dangerous assignment, so she invites family and friends for a holiday. Days at the conference and evenings at the villa should be the perfect work-life balance.
Until one of her colleagues is murdered.
An eclectic alliance of international detectives forms to find the assassin. But are they really on the same side?
Meanwhile, tensions rise at the holiday villa. A clash of egos sours the atmosphere and when a five-year-old child disappears, their idyll turns hellish.
From Lisbon streets to the quays of Porto, Parisian cafés to the green mountains of Gerês, Beatrice realises trust can be a fatal mistake.
My Review: As in the previous books, Bad Apples has Scotland Yard detective, Beatrice Stubbs, working alongside police colleagues in Europe. This time the setting is Portugal and as always, JJ Marsh’s writing style ensures the reader really feels they’re there. The cities of Porto and Lisbon along with the Portugal’s mountains are all vividly brought to life with small details capturing so much.
There are two plotlines – one domestic and personal, and one criminal. The supporting cast are wonderful as always including old and loved characters as well as some new ones. And Beatrice is at her lovable and quirky best and still uttering those mixed metaphors of hers such as ‘ears to the grindstone’, ‘long in the hoof’, and ‘a dustman’s holiday’.
The action begins quietly enough with Beatrice, close to retirement and having been promoted to Acting Chief Inspector, preparing to attend a European police conference in Portugal. And for this final working trip, she has decided to combine work with pleasure. So whenever she’s free she intends to join her partner, the wonderful Matthew, and other family and friends at a villa they’ve rented in the Portuguese hills. But it’s not long before there’s a murder and some other sinister events which not only require Beatrice and her colleagues to investigate crime rather than attend seminars, but also threaten the safety of Beatrice and those close to her. Yes, all the usual ingredients of a DI Stubbs plot are there and the story is told with all JJ Marsh’s usual flair. The writing is clever, original, witty and warm and the twists and turns are far from obvious. And the end if both fitting and satisfying.
And so it’s farewell to Beatrice, and here’s hoping she enjoys a long and happy retirement. I’ll miss her. *
All the books in this series including Bad Apples are available in paperback and ebook formats and are published by Prewett Publishing. They are also available as two e-book box sets of three.
*PS: adding this to original post. JJ Marsh has been in touch and assured me that although Beatrice has retired, her adventures will continue and three more books are planned. Hurrah!