Review

The Start of Everything

by Emily Winslow

Everyone has secrets. Some of them are good, but many of them are not. Here, the secret behind the killing in Cambridge is decidedly one of those that are not. And the secrets keep piling up in this part of England.

It started with a body in the fens outside the city and a young woman tasked with routing dead letters. True to her nature, Mathilde Oliver obsesses over tracking down the intended recipients of mail that has gone astray. In the most recent one to land in her hands, a man named Stephen has expressed his desire to find someone he knew as Katja. Mathilde won’t rest until she finds Stephen his Katja.

"THE START OF EVERYTHING has more than just a grand mystery at its heart. It has characters who are not merely quirky, but also strange. Wonderfully strange."

Meanwhile, the police have issued a statement to the press with a vague description of the corpse they dragged out of the fens. It has badly decomposed in the water, so they must guess at some of the probable physical characteristics. As Mathilde follows the newspaper stories, she begins to suspect that the Katja she’s been looking for may be the body the police have found.

Detective Chief Inspector Morris Keene has returned to the force after a long recovery from a knife attack, and he’s back with his former partner, DI Chloe Frohmann. They always worked well together, but things have changed. Keene has disabilities that might get in the way of doing his job, and Frohmann is having some issues of her own --- with Keene and other parts of her life.

Their investigation takes them out into the country to Deeping House, a once-grand manor that several families now call home. Katja seems to have been a nanny there in the recent past, along with Cambridge student Grace Rhys. Did something happen there at Deeping House or back in the city? They probably should try to talk to Ms. Rhys.

Inspectors Keene and Frohmann put aside their newly developed differences to work the case to a conclusion. But will they each come to the same conclusion as the other? However it works out, can they ever reclaim their earlier professional relationship? While the detectives are posturing and figuring out their strategies, things get even worse in Cambridge. They’re getting pummeled from both ends. Besides the community wanting answers, their supervisors are pushing for a quick resolution. Circumstances like that can make for sloppy police work. Hopefully, Keene and Frohmann can keep it together long enough to catch a killer.

THE START OF EVERYTHING has more than just a grand mystery at its heart. It has characters who are not merely quirky, but also strange. Wonderfully strange. There’s no Mr. Nice Guy; no cut-and-dried bad girl; no good cop/bad cop. Sure, there are likable characters along with those you love to hate, but they all have real-life jealousies, pettiness, failings and sundry oddities. The book is craftily written in alternating points of view, so readers get inside the minds of nearly all the players. It makes for a lot more dimension, not to mention a lot more enjoyment. Well done, Emily Winslow!

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on February 22, 2013

The Start of Everything
by Emily Winslow