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Fatal Solution

Leslie Scase
Publication Date: 
Thursday, May 6, 2021
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In this new mystery Inspector Chard is confronted with another murder in bustling Victorian Pontypridd. On the face of it the case appears unremarkable, even if it isn’t obviously solvable, but following new leads takes Chard into unexpected places. A second murder, a sexual predator, industrial espionage and a mining disaster crowd into the investigation, baffling the Inspector and his colleagues and putting his own life at risk as the murderer attempts to avoid capture.

Once again Leslie Scase takes the reader back to a time and place where, despite the pretensions of Victorian society, life is cheap and passions strong. His research brings Pontypridd vividly to life, and historical events drive along the plot of this page-turning story of detection, as Chard navigates a way through the clues and red herrings, and a lengthening list of suspects, towards the poisoner.

Atmospheric, authentic, Chard and the reader are left guessing until the final page.


Review by Billie Ingram Sofokleous

Monday, May 24, 2021

The latest instalment in Leslie Scase’s ongoing Inspector Chard series finds the eponymous crime-solver with his hands full when three murders happen in Pontypridd, in rapid sequence. With a long list of suspects and no real assistance, this is all set against the backdrop of a recent colliery disaster which completely ravages the local community. A fight for control of – hugely lucrative – train production then comes looming into view. Chard has no way of stopping the constant meddling of his shambling superior, and there are noticeable tensions in the force as the inspector’s workload piles up.

The research Scase and I discussed during our interview made his work seem all the more vivid. Setting the piece in south Wales offers a still-relatable sense of the locals being in each other’s pockets; his imagining of a crime plot shifts between noir film-like drama and unerring historical accuracy. The gritty realism of the dialogue treads a fine line, timelessly understandable despite injections of archaic slang. The pivotal murders are gruesome, and stayed with me long after I finished Fatal Solution in my first sitting – and after I spoke to Leslie about this novel and other facets of his work.

Read the full interview on the Buzz Magazine website.

Review by Grumpy Old Books

Sunday, May 9, 2021

This is the second in the Inspector Chard novels. Chard is an Englishman from Shropshire who ends up as an Inspector in the Welsh Valleys boom town of Pontypridd in the 1890s. Set against the backdrop of the recent massive Albion colliery disaster and the fight for control of the hugely lucrative Welsh rail industry. Chard isn't quite a fish out of water but he is definitely in the wrong river. Three murders happen in quick succession. Are they linked? Can he stop his bumbling superior from interfering? Can he stop internal jealousies in the ranks. The Welsh Wyatt Earp has his hands full.

I absolutely loved this book and if I could give more than 5 stars I would. It succeeds on all fronts.

Historically it is excellently researched and presented. You are living the period from such nuggets as cocaine being legal, to workhouse etiquette to the day to day life of a miner.

The whodunnit aspect of the book is also excellent. The author sets numerous traps for you to fall into. Just when you think you know who the villain is, they are exonerated and the spotlight falls on someone else. I have been known to spot the killer early on in a crime fiction novel, however on this occasion the author had me flummoxed until the reveal. Then of course with hindsight the path to the killer is all too clear.

Thirdly and most impressively he gets the culture of the Valleys right. I am from the valleys and  in all the years that I have been reading, I always looked for two things. First to expand my view of the world that I am not familiar with. Secondly I have always looked to find books that reflect my heritage, and my sense of belonging, to show me, my own hinterland. The valleys are quite a large part of south Wales with a large population but are hardly noticeable in literature. The only notable exceptions that I found as a young man being How Green was my Valley by Richard Llewellyn  and Rape of the Fair Country by Alexander Cordell.  While both have their merits I always felt they didn't quite nail it. Llewellyn was actually an Englishman and I think sub-consciously was describing the valleys from the outside looking in (although the character of Dai Bando was superb, and I saw many men of that type.) While Cordell's world was about ironmaking not coal. The culture of the valleys is very different from any other part of Wales. I have heard said about the valleys that Cardiff was only a few miles and different world away. I feel the author gets the feel of the valleys.

This book ticks all the boxes and more for me. After reading this book, I immediately went and bought the first in the series. I think I may have a new favourite author and his name is Leslie Scase.

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