Authors Bob and Carol Bridgestock came to writing late. First there was the little matter of following a career, and both were employed by West Yorkshire Police – Bob as a copper for 30 years, holding every rank within the CID before retiring at the heady heights of Detective Superintendent, while Carol clocked up 17 years as a support officer.
That’s a huge amount of experience, and the pair have put it to good use by creating DI Jack Dylan, one of the most believeable police officers I’ve ever had pleasure to meet within the pages of a crime novel. Although I hadn’t made his acquaintance before, White Lilies is Dylan’s third outing in print. This is a stand-alone book though and newbies like me will have no problem getting into the swing of things.
The story begins with a dramatic hit and run, which leaves an elderly woman and her dog dead at the edge of a peaceful village green. Grace Harvey was on an evening constitutional before going home to a lonely 80th birthday celebration, her only gift a lovely bouquet of white lilies from her financial advisor. There were no witnesses to the fatal collision and a smattering of glass at the scene is the only clue to the make and model of vehicle involved.
We readers know that Danny Denton and Billy Greenwood were responsible, and as the story progresses we come to realise that there’s very little that this pair of nasties won’t stoop to. They’re evil personified, and wily enough to keep one step ahead of the police, who have their suspicions about the pair but not enough to put them behind bars. It’s a problem that looms increasingly large in the lives of Dylan and his team after Danny and Billy kill a young mum and her baby – and the officers can’t prove it.
As if our hero doesn’t have enough problems already. Dylan’s wife, Jen, is heavily pregnant with their first child and he wants to spend more time with her – but as a mini crimewave (mainly led by Danny and Billy) hits Harrowfield, the fictional Yorkshire town that he covers, he is forced to work long hours and neglect her. Then there’s the added complication of his new DS. Taylor Spiers is an ambitious, self-centred woman with a reputation as a man-eater, and she’s got her sights set on her new boss. Can Dylan come out of this one with his sanity – and dignity – intact?
White Lilies stands out from other books in the genre because of its sense of realism. There is a great attention to detail that serves to bring the minutiae of police work to life. The tea collection and office politics, post-mortems and painstaking evidence gathering – this is how crime really is solved.
Characterisations were spot on, from the mere bit-part player to the central protagonists in a storyline which had enough surprises to keep me guessing. And I don’t think I’m giving too much away when I say that there’s a sense of balance to a book that begins with a senseless killing and ends with the celebration of a new life.
Thanks to Sandra Mangan for this amazing review.
You can pick up a copy of an R.C.Bridgestock book at any Blackpool Library or purchase a book at their Wordpool event.
Tickets available here.