BOOK BITES | Mary Paulson-Ellis, Peter Everett, MK Hill

Moira Lovell, Jessica Levitt and Jennifer Platt review this week's reads

03 November 2019 - 00:00 By sunday times books
'The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing', 'Corrupt Bodies', 'The Bad Place'.
'The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing', 'Corrupt Bodies', 'The Bad Place'.
Image: Supplied

Published in the Sunday Times: 03/11/2019

The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing ***
Mary Paulson-Ellis
Mantle, R300

Not always convincing in characterisation or narrative, this 504-page novel is nevertheless engaging. Edinburgh-based Solomon Farthing specialises in tracing the relatives of those who die intestate. After the death of an old soldier, Thomas Methven, whose possessions include a pawn ticket and £50,000 (R940,000) sewn into his burial suit, Farthing embarks on an investigation that leads to the closing days of World War 1 and reveals details regarding his own history. Among 11 individuals billeted in a farmhouse in France, tensions escalate as they await their orders. Through examining this situation and the lives of the survivors, Farthing uncovers a moving story, establishes its link with Methven and identifies the sources of the strange items that accompany his corpse. Moira Lovell

Corrupt Bodies ****
Peter Everett
Icon, R385

At the age of 35 Peter Everett got his dream job as superintendent at Southwark Mortuary in London. But on his first day he encountered corruption, disrespect of the dead and unruly staff. Not only were attendants stealing from the dead, there were dodgy deals involving funeral homes and coroners. There are elements of moroseness, but for the most part readers are guided through the nooks and crannies of life after death. In the end, Peter was pushed out, but it is for the better. He had neglected his family and suffered from burnout; he'd dealt with 11,000 bodies and assisted on more than 400 cases of murder. Soon after leaving the mortuary, he became a household name as the face of The Cook Report, a TV show which investigated the human body parts trade. Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt

The Bad Place ***
MK Hill
Head of Zeus, R295

This start of a solid new detective series featuring a female lead is such a treasure find. We are introduced to DI Sasha Dawson, of Essex Police, who is investigating a kidnapping that echoes one of 20 years ago. It happened in what everyone now calls The Bad Place, a remote farm on the Thames estuary. Six children were held captive for two weeks and only five of them got out alive. Dawson, who has plenty of her own family crises to deal with, has to investigate the five survivors who are now adults and find out what happened in the farmhouse 20 years ago. Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt