Pauline Bell: Stalker
(8th in the Benny Mitchell series 2000)

>>DI Benny Mitchell is attending another pointless course, leaving
Sergeant Jennifer Taylor to investigate a string of mysterious phone
calls. The caller is targeting pregnant women and taunting them
with rumours about AIDS. Jennifer suspects a young man devastated
by MS. He knows he will never be able to have children – is he
wreaking some sort of cruel revenge on those who can? But why
threaten Mitchell’s wife, Ginny? She has four children already.
Jennifer becomes convinced that Ginny is at risk from someone
much more sinister; and a brutal murder increases her sense
of foreboding. Meanwhile, Mitchell, barred from taking any
part in the investigation, tries to concentrate on a missing person case.<<
(publishers blurb).

Hmmm. Well to make a change I am neither strongly positive nor
negative about this one. Bell is, I think, new to me – I say I think because
it is possible that I have read one and forgotten about it. There are
10 books in the Mitchell series according to Fantastic Fiction and I
have never heard of her.
Anyway – negatives are weak characterisation, almost no sense of
place (actually they are somewhere in West Yorkshire, near Bradford
but small town I eventually figured out), undistinguished writing,
stereotypical sociology. But the positive (and she obviously needs
one!) is that this book has some good plot ideas. Nothing startlingly
original but at least one development which came as a genuine surprise
to me. Indeed in some ways there is too much plot – I found myself
losing track of who the very various characters in the three
investigations –
which may or may not be related – were. Bell’s command of the plot
material is not all that good. But I will forgive an awful lot if there are
some decent plot ideas however inadequately they may be handled –
for me plot is always the bedrock of the mystery (contributing my
own obvious cliche). And there are some good, if unoriginal, ideas here.

I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend Bell but neither would I unrecommend
(?) her. I will read some more and see how far this book is typical.
Worth a try if your library has them and nothing better springs off the
shelves at you.

🙂 at least it shows I can do fairly neutral reviews as well as OTT positive
and negative ones.

(November 2007)