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Love Story, With Murders
Cover of Love Story, With Murders
Love Story, With Murders
A Novel
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Harry Bingham's Talking to the Dead introduced readers to one of the most compelling new heroines in crime fiction, Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths, earning comparisons to Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salander. Now D.C. Griffiths returns to investigate a series of gruesome murders--and their connection to her own shadowy past.

D.C. Fiona Griffiths is facing the prospect of a dull weekend when the call comes in, something about illegal dumping in a Cardiff suburb. But when she arrives on the scene she finds, in a garage freezer, a severed human leg, complete with a pink suede high-heeled shoe.

South Wales police are able to ID the body part as that of a young woman who went missing five years earlier; a young woman who once made a living as an exotic dancer. All at once, Fiona's job as a detective and her role as a loving daughter collide: Fiona's father owns a Cardiff strip club and was once deeply involved in the local crime scene.

Still in recovery from a devastating psychotic breakdown, Fiona is wary of exploring a path that might end at her father's door . . . yet her obsessive approach to criminal investigation leaves her no other option.

But Fiona's specialty is not the living, it is the dead. And as she is just starting to get into the murdered girl's head, a severed hand is found--and this one is male.

Soon, police are swamped with an increasing number of body parts found in and around suburban gardens, sheds, and garages. Media attention is intense, and investigators are working from a list of hundreds of persons of interest. When the department identifies the second victim, Fiona struggles to connect him with the dead stripper. What do the victims have in common? And why this macabre method of disposing the corpses?

The answers may be more than Fiona can handle. Because in order to solve the riddle of these hideous murders, D.C. Fiona Griffiths will have to delve into the mysteries of her past--and hope she comes out intact . . . and alive.

Praise for Love Story, with Murders

"A most intriguing, if peculiar, detective . . . Although his volatile protagonist certainly dominates the first-person narrative, [Harry] Bingham doesn't stint on plot (very complicated), procedures (very detailed) or action (very brutal). . . . Satisfying."--Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

"Bingham's superb second police procedural featuring Det. Constable Fiona Griffiths delivers an even more intense plot and richer character study than his first. . . . Fiona's past mental problems and her unconventional personality make her a distinctive lead."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Some of the most memorably staccato narration in the genre . . . [Bingham's] remote, unquenchable heroine makes her stand apart from every one of her procedural brothers and sisters."--Kirkus Reviews

"Compelling . . . [Love Story, with Murders] amply proves the freshness and flair that [Bingham] has brought to the police procedural. Written with unexpected warmth and wry observation, it brings its gruesome story to life without turning the stomach. . . . Surprisingly delicate, it weaves a sinuous, seductive spell and confirms we have a new crime talent to treasure."--Daily Mail (UK)

"Love Story, with Murders boasts what must be the most startling protagonist in modern crime fiction. . . . Brutal, freakish and totally original."--The Sunday Times (London)

From the Hardcover edition.

Harry Bingham's Talking to the Dead introduced readers to one of the most compelling new heroines in crime fiction, Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths, earning comparisons to Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salander. Now D.C. Griffiths returns to investigate a series of gruesome murders--and their connection to her own shadowy past.

D.C. Fiona Griffiths is facing the prospect of a dull weekend when the call comes in, something about illegal dumping in a Cardiff suburb. But when she arrives on the scene she finds, in a garage freezer, a severed human leg, complete with a pink suede high-heeled shoe.

South Wales police are able to ID the body part as that of a young woman who went missing five years earlier; a young woman who once made a living as an exotic dancer. All at once, Fiona's job as a detective and her role as a loving daughter collide: Fiona's father owns a Cardiff strip club and was once deeply involved in the local crime scene.

Still in recovery from a devastating psychotic breakdown, Fiona is wary of exploring a path that might end at her father's door . . . yet her obsessive approach to criminal investigation leaves her no other option.

But Fiona's specialty is not the living, it is the dead. And as she is just starting to get into the murdered girl's head, a severed hand is found--and this one is male.

Soon, police are swamped with an increasing number of body parts found in and around suburban gardens, sheds, and garages. Media attention is intense, and investigators are working from a list of hundreds of persons of interest. When the department identifies the second victim, Fiona struggles to connect him with the dead stripper. What do the victims have in common? And why this macabre method of disposing the corpses?

The answers may be more than Fiona can handle. Because in order to solve the riddle of these hideous murders, D.C. Fiona Griffiths will have to delve into the mysteries of her past--and hope she comes out intact . . . and alive.

Praise for Love Story, with Murders

"A most intriguing, if peculiar, detective . . . Although his volatile protagonist certainly dominates the first-person narrative, [Harry] Bingham doesn't stint on plot (very complicated), procedures (very detailed) or action (very brutal). . . . Satisfying."--Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

"Bingham's superb second police procedural featuring Det. Constable Fiona Griffiths delivers an even more intense plot and richer character study than his first. . . . Fiona's past mental problems and her unconventional personality make her a distinctive lead."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Some of the most memorably staccato narration in the genre . . . [Bingham's] remote, unquenchable heroine makes her stand apart from every one of her procedural brothers and sisters."--Kirkus Reviews

"Compelling . . . [Love Story, with Murders] amply proves the freshness and flair that [Bingham] has brought to the police procedural. Written with unexpected warmth and wry observation, it brings its gruesome story to life without turning the stomach. . . . Surprisingly delicate, it weaves a sinuous, seductive spell and confirms we have a new crime talent to treasure."--Daily Mail (UK)

"Love Story, with Murders boasts what must be the most startling protagonist in modern crime fiction. . . . Brutal, freakish and totally original."--The Sunday Times (London)

From the Hardcover edition.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    Cardiff Prison. September 2010.

    "Welcome."

    Penry opens his hands in what's meant to be a spreading gesture, only they never get more than about eight inches apart. It's as though the ghosts of his handcuffs are still there.

    "Nice place," I tell him.

    Formica tables with metal legs. Overhead fluorescent lighting. No daylight. Official notices on the wall and a couple of prison guards watching everything. Seven hundred and eighty-five other prisoners, ninety-four of them lifers. Nice.

    "Well, you know, I was going to repaint. Freshen things up a bit. But . . ." He shrugs. "You know how it is."

    "Will you manage it?"

    The time, not the paintwork. The court handed down a four-year sentence, every minute of it deserved. I helped put Penry behind bars--Brian Penry, a bent ex-copper with a line in fraud and one or two worse things besides--and I shouldn't like him, but I do.

    "Four years, serve two. Yeah, I'll manage." His face goes through a few different expressions before settling on something blandly generic. "My first week here, a guy in the same wing as me kills himself. Piece of broken glass." He makes a gesture along the inside of both wrists. "They only noticed when there was blood leaking out from the door. Fucking . . ." He shakes his head instead of finishing, but I get the drift. "Bugger was only in for eighteen months and didn't even seem depressed, apparently."

    I remember the story, but vaguely, the way you do when it concerns something on the inside. What I do remember well was the arrest. A young father. Worked for a precision engineering company. Nice lad, doing well. Busted for trying to import cocaine from southern Spain in a shipment of steel tubing. Loses job, loses wife, loses kids, goes to jail. Life over.

    "You'll be okay, Brian," I tell him.

    "Yeah. Yeah, once I get the place freshened up, eh?"

    We talk for another thirty minutes and it feels like a century. When I leave the building, I find I'm almost running.

    2

    Cardiff. Late October 2010.

    It's a Friday afternoon. October in Wales, but you wouldn't think so. High clouds scudding in from the west and plenty of sunshine. The last shreds of summer and never mind the falling leaves.

    I'm in a patrol car with a P.C. Adrian Condon, on the way back from a wasted five hours going house-to-house in Rumney. We'd been trying to find anyone who could tell us about a street fight that injured one female bystander and two men, one of whom is in hospital with a fractured skull. We'd got nothing useful, but hadn't expected to. Our bosses hadn't expected us to. It was one of those box-ticking things. You do it because you have to.

    We're in end-of-shift mode, talking shop, thinking about the weekend, when Condon's radio squawks. Incident called in in Cyncoed. Something to do with illegal rubbish found during a house clearance. Condon looks at me. We could duck this one or we could be good little soldiers. I shrug. I don't care. Illegal rubbish in Cyncoed, what I came into policing for.

    Condon shrugs as well. He's already swinging the car around as I reach for the radio.

    The dispatcher gives us an address on the Rhyd-y-penau Road, up by the reservoir. Not the sort of address that generally gives us trouble. It's a place of clipped privet, tidy front gardens, and net curtains. Cottages and china dogs.

    We're there in ten minutes. A big blue van, doors banging open in the wind, marks the target. Condon whirls the car into the vacant scrap of driveway, parks under a bare-branched cherry tree.

    We get out. Condon's in uniform and I'm not, and he's a man, which I'm not. So although I'm...

About the Author-
  • Harry Bingham is an author and literary consultant who runs the U.K.'s largest literary consultancy firm, The Writers' Workshop. He resides in Oxfordshire, where he is at work on the next novel in the Fiona Griffiths series.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from December 9, 2013
    Bingham’s superb second police procedural featuring Det. Constable Fiona Griffiths delivers an even more intense plot and richer character study than his first, 2012’s Talking to the Dead. Mary Langton, a university student who briefly worked as an exotic dancer, has been missing for years when her leg is found in a freezer at the home of a recently deceased elderly widow. Soon, more of the young woman’s body parts are discovered throughout a neighborhood in Cardiff, Wales. The case becomes even odder when the police find parts belonging to the recently murdered Ali el-Khalifi, a North African metallurgist and college lecturer. Fiona also tries to learn why as a toddler she was left in the car belonging to the couple who eventually adopted her. Back in the day, her adoptive father, now a legitimate businessman, had the reputation as Cardiff’s most talented—but unconvicted—criminal. Fiona’s past mental problems and her unconventional personality make her a distinctive lead. Agent: George Lucas, Inkwell Management.

  • Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

    "A most intriguing, if peculiar, detective . . . Although his volatile protagonist certainly dominates the first-person narrative, [Harry] Bingham doesn't stint on plot (very complicated), procedures (very detailed) or action (very brutal). . . . Satisfying."

  • The Washington Post "Love Story, with Murders is a dark delight, and I look forward to Fiona's future struggles with criminals, her demons and the mysteries of her past."
  • Daily Mail (UK) "Bingham's superb second police procedural featuring Det. Constable Fiona Griffiths delivers an even more intense plot and richer character study than his first. . . . Fiona's past mental problems and her unconventional personality make her a distinctive lead."--Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Some of the most memorably staccato narration in the genre . . . [Bingham's] remote, unquenchable heroine makes her stand apart from every one of her procedural brothers and sisters."--Kirkus Reviews "Compelling . . . [Love Story, with Murders] amply proves the freshness and flair that [Bingham] has brought to the police procedural. Written with unexpected warmth and wry observation, it brings its gruesome story to life without turning the stomach. . . . Surprisingly delicate, it weaves a sinuous, seductive spell and confirms we have a new crime talent to treasure."
  • The Times (London) "Love Story, with Murders boasts what must be the most startling protagonist in modern crime fiction. . . . Brutal, freakish and totally original."--The Sunday Times (London) "DC Fiona Griffiths . . . is ditsy, funny, stubborn and sharp. . . . Bingham provides a spirited Welsh response to the Scottish domination of British crime fiction."
  • Shelf Awareness "Bingham's wit and deft descriptions enhance his plots and fascinating, unusual characters."
  • Crime Fiction Lover "They say there is nothing new under the sun. . . . I have to say that in a lifetime of reading crime fiction I have never come across anyone quite like Fiona Griffiths. . . . Read this book. Enjoy every syllable. Hold your breath, and tick off the weeks until the next one."
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