Review: Broken Fall: A D.I. Harland novella by Fergus McNeill

Thursday 11 June 2015
Title: Broken Fall: A D.I. Harland novella
Author: Fergus McNeill
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 15th January 2015
Pages: 135
Source: Free on Kindle
Rating: 4/5
Purchase: Amazon
When Detective Inspector Graham Harland first sees the body, it's just a tragic little bundle lying at the foot of the stairs, the shock of white hair bright against the dark carpet.

It looks like a straightforward accident. Albert Errington, aged seventy-nine, lived alone in his Bristol home and appears to have taken a nasty tumble down the stairs late one night. His death seems a terrible shock for his son and daughter, and his long-term carer.

But ever-observant, DI Harland is sure this isn't an accidental death. And he will find out who is trying to get away with murder...

Broken Fall is a novella that serves as a great introduction to the character of DI Graham Harland, as well as to the writing of Fergus McNeill, an author I only discovered when I read Cut Out last year. The story takes up about 58% on Kindle, with the remainder being a teaser for Cut Out. I downloaded this novella when it was free on Amazon.

DI Harland arrives at the house of an elderly gentleman found dead at the bottom of his stairs. Upon first glance it appears to be a straightforward death (the reader knowing otherwise from a mysterious prologue) but it isn't long before Harland develops a few suspicions as to the true nature behind the fall and sets out to investigate. Fergus McNeill discusses the book on his blog saying that it is his first whodunnit and posing the exciting proposition of whether the reader can solve the case before Harland, I have to admit that I didn't.

Whilst there aren't any jaw-dropping twists, it is a character-driven story with a number of suspects for readers - and Harland - to choose from. A believable family drama I suppose you could call it and I found myself thinking outside the box as opposed to thinking like a police officer and being a little more analytical like Harland. Sometimes I like to guess a character from the off and stick with them, not always the best tactic when it doesn't pay off. For a short story Fergus does manage to keep the reader guessing, but I would have liked some more twists to add some further excitement and suspense to the read but for a time-constricted story it was very enjoyable.

DI Graham Harland has a definite air of mystery about him, enough to make new readers want to check him out, which is often the point of these Kindle-age novellas. A highlight of Broken Fall was the Bristol setting, a place Fergus has researched and portrayed excellently to the reader, I could very easily visualise the settings in this book in my mind. Ultimately, I finished this book and wanted to read more from Fergus and Harland. Cut Out was one of my most memorable reads of 2014 and so hopefully I can get around to reading Eye Contact and Knife Edge very soon.


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