Thursday, 27 February 2014

Death in Spigg’s Wood, by Linda Gruchy



Reviewed by Chris Longmuir

I read a lot of crime fiction and I came to Death in Spigg’s Wood anticipating a good read, particularly as it had lots of good reviews. So what did I think of it?

It starts with a bang in Spigg’s Wood with two men who have been seriously injured, one beaten up and the other shot. The perpetrator of this violence is still on the scene and is arrested by the police, and it is several pages before it becomes obvious that the person who meted out this punishment is female, and is the main character, Meg Rusher.

Meg is an enigma. She is a housewife, but also a kick boxer, and during the course of the novel she fluctuates between being a strong person and a weaker, tearful woman. Despite the men’s injuries, she claims she is innocent and the victim of an attack. This does not prevent her arrest and subsequent prosecution. This, of course, highlights situations where victims are often prosecuted for inflicting damage on guilty parties.

I won’t tell you any more of the plot you’ll have to read it to find out what happens to Meg. Needless to say Linda Gruchy keeps the reader guessing, and I found my opinion of Meg swinging wildly between believing in her innocence, and wondering whether there was something much darker going on, and perhaps Meg was not as innocent as she appeared.

However, Spigg’s Wood is not a character led novel, in fact I found the characters somewhat lacking in depth. In particular, most of the police characters seem to blend together and I found it difficult to differentiate between them. The exception was Brooks, who is so nasty it is difficult not to remember him. However, it was a good plot driven novel with quite a lot of pace, particularly in the beginning and at the end, although there was a section in the middle which was much slower.

There were some police procedural inaccuracies in this book, however I doubt if the general reader would spot them, and Gruchy does say at the beginning of the book that the law and court aspects had been simplified and her aim was to entertain and not inform. On the other hand, I did find it difficult to accept that a professional policeman would refer to a suspect as ‘poor Meg’, he might think it but I doubt whether he would actually say it. I also found it hard to believe that the two men would be prosecuted in a court of law under the pseudonyms the police gave them because they would not divulge their names. However, these are minor issues and I’m sure will not get in the way of reader enjoyment of the book.

On balance, I found this a well plotted story, with an explosive beginning and end, and provided the reader is not looking for a character led novel, they should enjoy this book.

Chris Longmuir

You can buy Death in Spiggs Wood at