Take a step back in time with today’s mystery as we return to Victorian times and the Bowman of the Yard series. After the gripping mystery of the first two books, I was looking forward to this one. I wasn’t expecting quite the emotional punch that came with it! Here’s my review on The Body in the Trees.
Publisher: Sharpe Books | Date: 2020 | Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery
Plot: When a man is found hanged in the woods around the village of Larton, a troubled Inspector Bowman is despatched to investigate, only to discover that this is the latest in a series of supposed suicides.
He finds a village beset by suspicion, where every man is his neighbour’s enemy and the fingers point at any number of parties.
It’s not long, however, before Inspector Bowman’s fragile mental state places those closest to him in even greater danger.
The Body in the Trees Review
The Body in the Trees is the third instalment in the Bowman of the Yard series by Richard James. As with the previous books, this one had a mystery that left me guessing and characters that don’t fail to give you an emotional connection to the book.
Although The Body in the Trees opens with a death – just like previously – from the very start of the book there is the sense that this is going to have more of an emotional impact than the previous. It’s not a fast-paced, tension-building opening but one that sets up the mystery in a solid and intriguing manner.
The past two books have witnessed Bowman trying to recover from the loss of his wife. There’s positivity in the first book, the fear he is slipping in the second, and the heart-break of seeing it all get too much in the latest. Bowman is losing his grip – he’s turned to drink and surviving every day without his beloved Anna is getting too much. Given a mystery to unravel in a small village is his chance to prove that he can still handle the job, albeit with devastating consequences.
It’s impossible not to have an empathetic attachment to Bowman in this book. There’re not many series where you witness the main character spiral rather than recover, and it’s powerful. You root for Bowman throughout, wanting him to find his path again and a breakthrough on the case feels like it might just do that – until it doesn’t.
Was it possible that a man may sub-divide his very nature to become something new? Can he leave the past behind to rise, Phoenix-like from the ashes of his experience?The Body in the Trees by Richard James
The case is intriguing, as much because it’s not entirely clear which event involves foul play and which is unfortunate circumstances taking their toll. While Bowman and Graves are met with hostility and danger at every turn, it becomes clear there is far more at stake than first assumed. One of the things I love about this series is I haven’t yet been able to guess the perpetrator – and the same is true here. With Bowman’s slip on his sanity, it’s hard to piece together what may be an unreliable narrator, and what is a hint that something is going on.
There’s not the fast-paced tension of the second book found here. It’s gentler – and more deadly because of it. It’s Graves and Bowman themselves who are in peril as they start to uncover the truth – it’s not facing down adversaries per se, but trying to win the trust of locals that puts them in danger. I liked this change of pace: it didn’t feel there was a repetition of the previous books just with a different crime as I’ve often found in mysteries, but something different.
The Body in the Trees is a gripping mystery that will leave you guessing. But it’s also an emotional book, dealing not only with grief and the effect it has, but how we react when everything gets too much. There’s a strong undercurrent to this one which makes it engaging, even if not upbeat.
I’m thoroughly enjoying this series and definitely recommend!
Are you a historical fiction or mystery fan? Does this sound like your kind of book?
Also in the series: