- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Sparkling Books Limited (18 September 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1907230688
- ISBN-13: 978-1907230684
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 299 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
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When Anthony Rathe Investigates Paperback – 18 Sep 2018
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Review by Shirley Rothel
This gripping collection of detective stories is an excellent blend of contemporary and traditional crime drama. Each story is tightly plotted, exciting, and each with a satisfying twist at the end. There is a variety to the stories, ranging from dark secrets being exposed to genuinely tragic family secrets coming to light.
But the real success of these stories are the two main characters and their relationship. Rathe is a fascinating and original character, a troubled man trying to make sense of his life in the wake of a tragedy which still haunts him. Contrasted with Rathe’s private quest for redemption is Inspector Cook, a man with his own troubles, trying to come to terms with the violence he sees in his everyday life in the best way he can.
The contrast between the two of them is set off against their mutual desire to find the truth and it forms the basis of an uneasy alliance. It is their uncertain partnership which sets these stories aside. It is not the usual detective duo combination and this amiable hostility between them is a welcome change. Rathe and Cook are wary of each other but what these stories show so well is the slow building of trust and respect between them as they investigate the crimes at the centre of these four excellent stories. A sequel can’t come soon enough.
Review by David Stuart Davies
Anthony Rathe is a disillusioned former lawyer having left the bar because an innocent young man called Marsden, whom he prosecuted, committed suicide in gaol. As a result, haunted by guilt and shame, Rathe finds himself investigating crimes of passion where injustice is evident. ‘The Marsden disgrace’, as Rathe views the matter, is a connecting thread through the four stories in this excellent collection as he attempts to atone for his perceived sin.
Anthony Rathe is a fascinating character who works in a solitary fashion down the narrow line between the police and the legal system. He is a wonderfully incongruous mix of the stoical and passionate. Here we have a character who is intriguing and pleasingly different from the run of the mill sleuths who people modern crime fiction. Indeed his heritage is in the tradition of the unusual golden age detective who is neither a tired policeman nor the risibly eccentric private detective. He is a very welcome addition to the raft of modern crime solvers.
In this collection we have a quartet of stories in which Rathe solves a series of murders. I think of these as cabinet detective tales in that the mysteries are tightly plotted and cunning, while involving only a small cast of players, which works well with Booth’s rich and intense storytelling style. He is particularly good with atmosphere and Rathe’s internal monologues. The characters are expertly drawn and psychologically accurate. While at times we are in Agatha Christie whodunit territory with the plots which challenge the reader to spot the culprit before the denouement, the literary quality of the writing adds an elegant and realistic patina to the narratives.
One of the added pleasures of these stories is the growing uneasy relationship Rathe has with the police detective Inspector Terry Cook, a belligerent but very human copper who tolerates rather than accepts Rathe’s interference in his cases. Indeed on occasion he sometimes seeks his help, albeit begrudgingly. The two men rub each other up the wrong way most of the time, but Booth subtly reveals that there is a respect growing between them. It’s an engaging double act.
Anthony Rathe is a new star on the crime fiction stage and this reviewer wants more, please.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This book consists of four short stories, featuring the eponymous Anthony Rathe as a guilt-ridden ex-lawyer, attempting to alleviate his personal martyrdom by questing for justice on behalf of the wrongfully accused.
Having given up his legal career due to a personal crisis of faith, Rathe takes an amateur interest in a number of local murder cases and assists the police (or interferes) to ensure that the correct suspect gets the blame.
The story style is that of traditional amateur sleuth narratives: a puzzle is posed, with a reasonable number of hints and clues provided, and the reader and investigator attempt to piece together the pieces before the innocent suffer further.
I particularly enjoyed the puzzle element of these stories as I felt the author ‘played fair’ with the number and presentation of clues, so I managed an even success rate in identifying the killer before the characters did! I also enjoyed the changing and developing relationship between Rathe and his police contact frenemy.
I was much less keen on the framing narrative in which Rathe repeatedly encounters the mother of the man he helped to wrongfully imprison. I felt that the initial conversation was enough to give the reader a sense of the setup for the main character, and that repeatedly returning to the same scene felt unnecessary. I found it hard to empathise with the calm acceptance on the one side, and the (in my mind) excessive sackcloth-and-ashing that Rathe indulges in on the other.
In general these are great short mysteries, perfect for crime readers looking for a light bite. To tempt me into a longer novel featuring the same lead character I would want some reassurance that he is able to ease up on the self-flagellation a little!
For a moment, he was incapable of registering anything other than the sight and smell of blood. But then, as if from some place far away, he heard the whimper of a voice, but oddly childish in its terrified pitch. Healey broke free from his blood-spattered spell and looked at the other man in the church. Not the horrible thing which had once been a man, but the undeniably human form which was standing over the corpse. He was staring at the vicar with the wild eyes of a madman, his face twisted in some emotion which might have been fear, panic, or guilt. Perhaps it was a mixture of them all. His hands were outstretched to Healey and at once the vicar was again conscious of the presence of blood. This time, it was smeared over those outstretched palms, as though begging the holy man to cleanse them. As the stranger took a step towards him, Healey made an instinctive move backwards. The man seemed bewildered by the vicar’s movement, frowning in confusion into the light of the torch’s beam. Then, as though his senses told him what was in the vicar’s mind, the man began to shake his head. A finger snaked out and pointed towards the body beside him.
“I didn’t do this,” he stammered.
– Matthew Booth, When Anthony Rathe Investigates
Review by Steph Warren of Bookshine and Readbows blog
So, what we have here is four shortish stories all connected by one concept. Anthony Rathe considers himself guilty of the death of a young, troubled man who, upon being found guilty and sentenced, subsequently killed himself in prison. Rathe finds out later that he was actually innocent of the crime he was imprisoned for and so visits his grave often throughout the book and, despite assurance from the boy's mother, still holds himself responsible. To try and gain some redemption, he makes it his mission to solve other injustices. Whether they be current or historical, he teams up with Inspector Cook and together they do their best to prove innocence, or otherwise, of several characters throughout the book.
I am not the biggest fan of short stories but I do like anthologies and even though, with the brevity of the tale being told, there is not much wriggle room for the usual twists and turns you find in longer forms of crime fiction, I found that there was just enough for me to get my teeth into with these. Yes, they were occasionally a little bit obvious at times, but I mostly put that down to my voracious devouring of the genre rather than anything the author did.
Slightly annoying angst aside, I did like Rathe as a character and I thought that his relationship with Cook was well done. They don't really like each other initially but have a mutual respect for one another and it was interesting to see their relationship develop throughout the book.
As with the relationship between the two main characters, I thought that the stores they embroiled themselves in also got better through the book. The final one being my favourite, and also the most shocking; cause and effect anyone!
All in all, a nice anthology containing four interesting stories, played out by some well rounded characters, written in an interesting old-feeling style. Hopefully there will be more to come in the series, I'll definitely be up for that! My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
Meet Anthony Rathe, a barrister who abruptly retired from practice after his brilliant prosecution resulted in an innocent man's conviction and subsequent suicide. Rathe is now a shade of his former self, haunting the cemetery, staring at gravestones, meditating on justice. Until, that is, he is forced to consider (not investigate really) four different murders, one for each novella.
Rathe is a handsome, wealthy, cultured, yet empathetic man who listens to his intuition. Each story is different and enjoyable, if a bit reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes written by Martin Gatiss. However, I must say that the final story is overly shocking, making it the weakest of the group. The murder victim could easily have been someone else.
I received a review copy of "When Anthony Rathe Investigates" by Matthew Booth (Sparkling Books) through NetGalley.com.