Crime Scene - - POST MORTEM - By Emma John­ston BY AN­NIE HAUXWELL

There’s some­thing im­mensely like­able about Hauxwell’s pri­vate eye, Cather­ine Ber­lin, and it’s be­cause of her im­per­fec­tions rather than de­spite them. Ber­lin’s a loner with se­ri­ous trust is­sues, a mid­dle-aged heroin ad­dict who’s haunted by the past and wres­tles with her own de­mons. But this flawed yet tough and te­na­cious wo­man is free of the cliches that this sce­nario may sug­gest; the way she makes mas­sive mis­takes (and even more en­e­mies) as she steam­rollers her way through cases is all-too-hu­man.

This fourth novel in the se­ries sees Ber­lin hired for a case in­volv­ing an orphaned pub­lic school­boy that takes her into the Chi­nese un­der­world via shady mem­bers of the British aris­toc­racy and their ready sup­ply of opium. Hauxwell writes beau­ti­fully about her sur­round­ings, plung­ing us into London’s his­to­rysoaked, gen­tri­fied Wap­ping river­side, the hu­mid glitz of Hong Kong and the smog of main­land China. Sub­tle ref­er­ences to old in­juries and grudges press on your in­trigue synapses, which will make new­com­ers want to stock up on pre­vi­ous in­stal­ments be­fore they have even reached the end of this tale. As the pace builds, putting down House Of Bones be­fore Ber­lin’s fin­ished the task at hand is a tough ask.

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