‘The Rat Stone Serenade,’ by Denzil Meyrick

The Rat Stone Serenade

I’m quite enjoying Denzil Meyrick’s DCI Daley series of rural police procedurals. So I’m sorry to say that The Rat Stone Serenade was a little disappointing.

Our hero, Detective Chief Inspector Jim Daley, has decided to resign his post and leave police work altogether. It’s partly weariness after the mayhem he’s been witnessing, and partly because he’s grown desperately in love with a subordinate, Sergeant Mary Dunn (with whom he had an affair earlier), and he wants to save his shaky marriage for the sake of his baby son.

His final duty is to help with security for the Annual General Meeting of the Shannon Group, “the world’s largest corporation,” which sprang originally from an estate in a nearby town on the Kintyre Peninsula. Once a year the Shannon heirs and other corporate officers meet at the great manor house on the cliff. It’s a haunted place, cursed by a blacksmith from whom an ancestor stole the land, and by the mysterious, unsolved abduction of the heir apparent years ago, when he was a small boy.

What follows is kind of a mess, in my opinion. There are so many plots and counterplots going on, so many double-crosses, so many generational secrets to be revealed one after another, that it’s pretty much impossible to keep up. (Also there’s a convenient once-in-a-century snow storm to isolate most of the cast of characters. And a sinister ancient blood cult, in case things get dull.) I found it all pretty unconvincing.

And I didn’t care for the direction Daley’s relationship with Sergeant Mary took (although a surprise is coming there, too).

I like the series and plan to continue with it, but The Rat Stone Serenade was built a couple stories taller than building codes ought to allow.

Cautions for language and sexual situations.

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