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"I'm a Coroner. I spend my life laying things to rest . . ."
Somehow I came across "Coroner" in hardcover when it was first published. I loved it so much I bought two subsequent volumes in hardcover, too, as soon as they came out. I don't think I've ever done that before. All three are magnificent. I was delighted to see them now in Audible and already bought all three again, and am looking forward to the two more that M. R. Hall has now written. These books are the best of the best, and the narration by Sian Thomas is absolutely perfect. She's exactly what I'd expect Coroner Jenny Cooper to sound like. (Not that it matters, but I was astonished to see that "M. R. Hall" is actually Matthew Hall, a young man who created a pitch-perfect female as his protagonist. I didn't realize that until I'd read all three books and looked up the author out of curiosity. Wow! Well done!)
There's much to love about these books: the fascinating details about the unusual job of coroner -- a bit different in England than in the States, but no less interesting. The locale, especially the house Jenny just bought, a remote, greatly-in-need-of-care farmhouse I expect most of us would give our eye teeth to live in. And Jenny herself. I can't help but compare her to Lynda LaPlante's memorable 'Lorraine Paige', that brilliant but much-abused alcoholic police detective who struggles against her many personal demons in LaPlante's "Cold" series, "Cold Heart", etc. For Jenny, it's not alcohol so much as Valium that's her demon. Coming off a nasty, long-term marriage to an arrogant surgeon, followed by a divorce in which their teenage son is sent to live with her husband -- then learning that she was appointed as Coroner more or less as a 'charity' case -- Jenny has grown dependent on the drug to maintain, with the struggle to hide her dependence almost as much of a problem as is the stress of everything else. All of this makes the unquestionably brilliant Jenny Cooper an immensely sympathetic protagonist, especially given her determination to see justice done for the dead "clients" she's responsible for.
It's really a misnomer to call these "crime" novels, because although the setting indeed involves crimes and courts, its the characters who hold the real attraction, and Jenny Cooper is a winner in every respect. Just one warning: If you buy 'Coroner', be sure you have enough credits to buy the rest of the series, too. You won't want to wait to buy them.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
Disclaimer: my favorite detective genre. Murder (or was it/they?) in a rural setting, and we learn the role of the Coroner in legal matters. The woman taking the job is so interesting as she juggles strengths and faults while susing out deeply covered secrets in the local juvenile training center. I enjoyed this one.