British Police Procedurals Part I: The Romney and Marsh Files by Oliver Tidy.
I had a ball reading all seven murder-mysteries involving the deeply flawed Detective Inspector Tom Romney and his trusty Detective Sargent Joy Marsh. The stories are set in the Dover CID (Crime Investigation Department) on the Kent Coast, and the atmosphere of the area the author brings to life functions as another character.
It so happens that there is a sparsely populated wetland on the Kentish coast called Romney Marsh, so Tidy is having a bit of geographic fun with the names of his main characters.
I instantly liked the first book in the series, Rope Enough.
Synopsis From Amazon
Newly promoted Detective Sergeant Joy Marsh is shipped out to Dover on the Kent coast to work under Detective Inspector Romney, a copper with a reputation as a cantankerous man but good at his job.
On her first night as his sergeant, a brutal crime in the town starts a chain of events that will test the mettle, the resolve and the detective in both of them.
DI Romney is, as they say in the American South, a real piece of work. He’s cantankerous, misanthropic, opinionated, and vain. He has woman troubles up one side and down the other. We also learn an astonishing amount about his body functions – usually when they go awry. And yet you gotta love him. He’s a crack detective, he’s very clever, and he cares.
So, after finishing the first, I happily continued on to the second. What surprised me most about the series is that I thought it got better and better as the characters developed, the mysteries unfolded, the cast of characters in the CID came into sharper focus, and the humor deepened.
The final book, A White-Knuckle Christmas, provides a fitting end to the series, although I wish it would go on!
Synopsis From Amazon
A particularly nasty series of crimes is casting a pall over the members of CID and an unusually white Dover in the run up to Christmas on the south coast of England.
The festive period is further marred by the report of a pair of suspicious sudden deaths on the frozen outskirts of the town.
Detective Inspector Romney and his loyal team are dealing with evil on all fronts and against a ticking calendar.
What was most remarkable to me about this particular story in the Romney and Marsh Files was the absolutely brilliant scene at the end that revealed why we liked Romney and were rooting for him all along. (No spoilers – I’ll say only that Romney makes an appearance on television). The place where both Romney and Marsh arrive in their lives by the end made me understand why Tidy chose to make this story the last. As I say, I was sorry it didn’t go on, but I understand why.
Murder is always a grim business. Tidy strikes a good tone with respect for the dead and the righteous drive for justice on the part of the police. What makes these stories so human is the humor that lurks never far from the surface. When it makes an appearance, as it frequently does, it is always welcome.
I heartily recommend the Romney and Marsh Files to lovers of British police procedurals.
See also: What I’m Reading
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen