Sleep Tight – Caroline Mitchell

★★★

I rather enjoy a good mystery, especially police procedurals. The difference between a good mystery and a not-so-good one usually depends on whether it ticks certain boxes. For one thing, it needs a good, tricky central mystery. You’d think this would be obvious, but no,  I’ve read mysteries that end up being either way too obvious, or so convoluted that they make almost no logical sense at all (you know the type, where the murderer offs dozens of people in order to protect a rather banal secret, or instead of just getting divorced or quitting their job).

Aside from that, good characterization is super-important. Not just our heroes in blue (or plainclothes as the case may be) but the villains – machiavellian, moustache-twirling eeeevillldoersss can throw me right off. And finally, a great mystery should have great pacing and well-crafted dialogue. These sorts of stories tend to be heavy on conversation and exposition – witness interviews, briefing sessions, standing around the corpse talking about the corpse – that sort of thing.

Sleep Tight has a strong concept, that keeps you engrossed right until the last pages. A murderer is targeting prostitutes, making them over into fairy-tale princesses and posing their bodies in gruesome tableaus.  It’s up to Ruby Preston to catch this creep; but the spanner in the works is that her lover – a handsome gangster – has been framed for the crimes. Add to this some very odd behavior from her fellow coppers, and Ruby’s got her job cut out for her.

This was an enjoyable read, and for the most part tightly-crafted and deftly written. However. Some of the phrasing was so clunky at times it yanked my right out of the story. I’m not sure how exactly CCTV camera footage can be interrogated, and the phrase “delicate lacing” turns up twice – once as a description of makeup on a superior officer, and once as a description of coffee breath. At one point, Ruby says “here are the keys to the motor”  when asking a fellow officer to drive, which upset me so much I had to go make a chocolate-nutella mug cake to comfort myself. People just don’t talk like that! You just hand over the keys and say “you’re driving” or “do you mind driving” or “your turn to drive”. 

Also, Ruby; who is meant to be streetwise and cheeky; often came off as slightly smug and self-satisfied at times. I think it was probably all the grinning (who knows why I find characters grinning all the time insufferable but I do).

Overall, a satisfying-enough but occasionally frustrating read. I’d recommend for those who enjoy British crime dramas, and extreme grinning.

Provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


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