Sunday, 21 August 2016

He's Gone by Alex Clare

Just when you think every angle of every book plot has been covered over and over again, along comes a new author with a new story to tell. At least I think gender dysphoria hasn't been covered before in crime fiction, or at least not where the Detective Inspector in charge of the investigation disappears for two weeks vacation and returns a woman, as is the case with this crime fiction novel.

We first meet Detective Inspector Robyn Bailley as she returns to work. Now a woman DI Robyn Bailley used to be DI Rodger Bailley but had never been happy or complete as a man. Now she had the chance to continue the job she loved, while being the gender she had always wanted to be. But things are never that simple are they? Now as a woman DI Bailley must learn to act as a woman would, dress as a woman would and put her lipstick on correctly without staining her teeth!

Apart from facing her colleagues in her new gender, DI Robyn has been thrown straight into the distressing case of a missing two year old child, Ben. This is further complicated by his mothers obvious disgust at DI Robyn's appearance. Ben's mother Melissa belongs to a strict religious cult, who frown upon any kind of gender alteration among many other things and she soon lodges a complaint against Robin with the police authorities. All this while Robyn is doing her best to find her son for her, solve a spate of increasingly violent burglaries and try to identify a dead body.

I have to say I enjoyed this book. It didn't cause me to laugh out loud but there were amusing moments for me throughout the book where I smiled quietly to myself. Whether they were intentional by the author or they just tickled my humor, i'm not sure. There were moments when I found Robyn's personal life intruding too much into the main story as I saw it, which was about a two year old boy who had gone missing and that investigation. At times I really felt for Robyn and the difficulties she had to go through to be even a little happy, but there were also times where I felt, 'forget the makeup, the bra digging into your back or where you left your handbag and just go find that little boy'. As a police procedural I was disappointed that I guessed correctly early on who had taken Ben, and who had committed the murder. But, as a story. A police procedural with a 'difference', I really liked it. I liked DI Robyn Bailley, and I really look forward to catching up with her in the second in the series so I hope I don't have to wait too soon. And i'd just like to whisper....... if there are any tv production companies out there looking for a new tv detective series please do give consideration to DI Robyn Bailley as her story would make a great tv!

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