Avenge the Dead by Jackie Baldwin: Past Mistakes and Crimes Come Back to Haunt Dumfries

Avenge the Dead

Avenge the Dead

by Jackie Baldwin
Series: DI Frank Farrel, #3

eARC, 310 pg.
One More Chapter, 2020

Read: March 4-5, 2020

Okay, I literally just finished this book—it’s been one of those weeks—about 30 minutes after my self-imposed “you have to start writing at this point” rule. So you’re getting pipin’ hot opinions here, fresh from the oven. I haven’t had a chance to reflect too much on the book as a whole, but I think I can find a thing or two to say. Because of my time crunch, I’ll leave the synopsis bit of this post to the Book Spotlight that I posted—it’s brief, but it does the trick:

DI Frank Farrell and DS McLeod are tasked with investigating the brutal murder of a defence solicitor’s wife in Dumfries.

It’s been over a year since they left the town after an investigation robbed them of a dear friend. But now they’re back and must find a way to move on.

When the son of another defence solicitor is murdered, a strange tattoo etched on his body, the case takes them into darker, more disturbing territory.

It leads them back into the past – to a horrific fire in a cottage that took a woman’s life, to four friends harbouring dark secrets – and finally to a killer waiting patiently for revenge.

Like many other police procedurals from the other side of the Atlantic despite being called the DI Frank Farrell series, it’s about several characters—most of the investigative team. Honestly, I’d rather read about Mhairi McLeod or a couple other minor characters than Farrell—she seems more complex and interesting than he does. That’s more of a commentary on her than him (and I think if I’d been around for the whole series, I’d appreciate him more). But you spend enough with the team as a whole, that it’s simple enough to get your fill with all the characters.

Baldwin’s prose is pretty bare and straight-forward, making it easy to read this. Things keep moving smoothly, and the juggling of the many witnesses, potential victims, personal lives and investigative lines doesn’t feel too much like juggling. However, particularly at larger moments—pivotal scenes—I think she drifts toward over-writing in the way she works to emphasize how important the scenes are. I’m not sure how well the story is actually served with the Prologue, set ten years before the action kicks off, I think it distracted me, as I kept waiting for elements discussed in it to be brought up later (much later, it turns out)—and I can’t help but wonder if just starting after it would’ve been better.

This is the third in a series, and it’s pretty clear that the first two installments were pretty eventful. Baldwin does an adequate job of catching the new reader up to where they need to be, but I think she could’ve given us a little more. This can be read as a stand-alone just fine, but to fully appreciate everything, you’re going to have to go back and read the first two, I think.

Overall this is a satisfying read with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing, a handful of characters I’d like to get to know better. Avenge the Dead sucked me in , deeper than I’d have guessed with the characters—can’t complain about that. I’d gladly read others in this series or by this author, and I bet you would, too.

3 Stars

My thanks to damppebbles blog tours for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including a copy of the novel) they provided.

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