Necrochip, by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Third in the "Bill Slider" detective series: in this one, a human finger is found in a bag of chips, which prompts a search of the premises around the fish-and-chip shop. Other body parts are discovered, and Slider and Atherton are drawn into an investigation which immediately throws up the takeaway manager as the prime suspect. But while he claims that no-one else could possibly have had access to the kitchen where the victim was dismembered, he denies that he was responsible.

I think I liked this better than the second book, but that may be because I devoted a sensible chunk of time and read it in only a few sessions. Very enjoyable. Quite a lot of puns in this, not least the title of the book itself, which I had assumed (and feared) would be a reference to some kind of computer-related theme: because often when you get computer stuff in a novel, it's embarrassingly inaccurate. The manner, and location, of the victim's death leads to some obvious word-play, but there are more erudite puns in the book too, of which I remember "a catamite look at a queen" (when talking of a possible trip to a gay bar), "eminence grease" (of the manager of the chip shop), and a chapter headed "What Cate Did".

There was also a section which I thought worth quoting: when Bill is considering why it's so hard for him to tell his wife Irene that he wants to leave her for Joanna, we get:

Slider leaned against the wall, looking across the room at the woman he loved, the only woman he had ever loved. You hurt me. Why not Irene? He had not tried to explain it to her because he doubted if he could make it sound sensible, but the reason he always protected Irene rather than her was not only because of the status quo, but because he didn't really, most of the time, see Joanna as separate from him. And just as he had been taught as a child to offer the chocolate cake to the guest and take the plain bun himself, so he would always feel driven to give Irene more consideration because she was the outsider, and take the gristly bit for the himself-and-Joanna entity.

Another really good piece of writing, and yet again I'm keen to get on to the next in the series, not least because of the cliffhanger on which this book ends. The situation with Joanna comes to a head in this story, and it looks for a while to have been resolved. But something happens at the end which, while not totally unexpected, means that the next development in this particular sub-plot is uncertain.

Completed : 03-Mar-2012

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