Cover Image: Cruel as the Grave

Cruel as the Grave

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Fitness trainer Erik Lingoss is found bludgeoned to death in his London flat by his recently dumped girlfriend.  DCI Bill Slider and his team soon learn that Erik had special clients in high places who paid highly for his personalized services.  Erik also used and dumped several women.  So was the killer either a disgruntled client, a spurned ex-lover?   Or could the killer be one of the spouses or siblings of one of Erik's clients with a grudge?

As in the previous books in this long-running series, the most enjoyable parts of this story are not the police investigation but rather the dynamics between Slider and his team members and the subtle humour found throughout the book.  Slider's personal life also comes to the fore, as he and his wife Joanna are expecting their second child.

That being said, a prime suspect in Erik's murder comes to the fore.  Slider's team works meticulously to slowly gather enough evidence from CCTVs/camera footages, bank statements and witness testimonies to move in and make the arrest.  This was another enjoyable and solid entry in the DCI Bill Slider mystery series.

I received a digital ARC from Netgalley and Severn House with no requirements for a review.  I voluntarily read this book and provided this review.
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CRUEL AS THE GRAVE (PolProd-D.S.I. Bill Slider-London-Contemp) – G+
	Harrod-Eagles, Cynthia – 22nd in series
	Severn House, Feb 2021, 256 pp 

First Sentence:  Atherton was singing in his Dean Martin voice.

Personal fitness trainer Erik Lingoss is found murdered in his flat by a young woman who fancied herself in love with him.  A box full of cash in his closet, 700 pounds under his pillow, and his missing mobile phone indicates things may not be as indicated.  The more Slider and his team investigate, the more suspects emerge.  Under pressure to clear the case, they work to find the who and why of the murder.   

Beginning a new book by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles is akin to being given one's favorite dessert.  First, there is no prologue, not even one masquerading as a first chapter.  The story begins on page one and continues to the end. Second, wonderful dialogue filled with wry humor—"Let he who is without sin bore the pants off everybody else."  Last, the sense of time and place.  Her evocative descriptions employ all the senses.  

The characters are alive--"…Atherton stretched, catline.  Tall, elegant, sartor's plaything, he was as out of place at a dreary crime scene as an orchid in a vegetable patch."  The balance is Slider, not a Long-Ranger cop, but respected by a team where each has their role to play.  The plot may initially present itself as straightforward, yet one knows it won't stay that way long—"Thirteen thousand pounds. …Normal people don't keep large amounts of cash in the wardrobe."

Including characters' families in the story adds humanity and dimension. Unlike the questionable stability of Atherton's relationship, Slider has an extended family of his wife, son and a child on the way, a daughter by his first marriage, a father and his partner.  A wonderful hospital scene touches the heart.

The author's use of language, including the chapter headings, is a pleasure.  One small caution, or treat, is that it is very British, meaning there are numerous British terms and idioms.  It can be confusing, but the meaning is easy enough to glean from the context—"The bathos almost made him smile."  The use of malaprops—"Putting the cat before the horse, aren't you?"—and literary references are fun to spot.  The banter between Slider and Atherton realistically reflects that of friends/colleagues who know each other well.  

The plot focuses on the real police work of identifying the many suspects, following leads, and looking for evidence. What drives Slider as much as finding the killer is discovering the motive which is poignant. 

CRUEL AS THE GRAVE is such a good read. Harrod-Eagles is a skilled writer who evokes empathy for the killer. It was truly the dessert's finishing touch.
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Personal Fitness Trainer, Erik Lingoss. is found dead in his home, his head having been bashed in by a dumbbell.  The woman who called the police identifies herself as a girlfriend ..sort of ... and she's the one who found him.  She's got blood on her clothes and her hands ... and immediately becomes the prime suspect.

DCI Bill Slider and his team are called in to investigate ....and what they find ... and don't find ... are quite surprising.

This is more a police procedural as Slider and his team spin their wheels interviewing everyone who knew the victim.  Most of those are the women that Lingoss hit on, some are friends, some are working acquaintances. The characters are deftly drawn, not all of them likeable.  The action is low-key leading to a not-so-surprising conclusion.  Although 22nd in the series, this is easily read as a stand alone.

Many thanks to the  author / Severn House / Netgalley for the digital copy of this crime fiction/mystery.  Read and reviewed voluntarily, opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
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It's always fun to catch up with Slider and the rest of the gang, and the writing is delightful.  As usual, there are interesting cultural tidbits:  I never knew that in the UK a blue ribbon is for second place.  The pace of the investgation is slow, though, with more talk than action.  Much as I enjoyed all the clever dialogue, I found myself picking up and putting down this book over many days because it felt like so little was happening.  Finally Slider gets the perpetrator just in time to return home for a personal milestone.  I'll still happily read the series, but be aware that these are leisurely reads, not glued-to-the-pages-all-night books.
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I love this series and I think this is the best installment I read so far.
It's a complex, gripping and highly entertaining story that I read in one afternoon.
The characters are well thought and interesting as usual, I was happy to catch up with Slider family life and appreciated the complexity of the new characters.
The mystery is fast paced, full of red herrings and twists, and the solution came as a surprise.
I had a lot of fun and couldn't put it down. strongly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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Harrod-Eagles is no slouch when it comes to concocting a well-crafted, murder mystery – I always enjoy reading her books for that reason, alone. But this time around, I think she has outdone herself. The plotting in this entertaining police procedural whodunit is masterful. It doesn’t hurt that I now know and like DCI Bill Slider and members of his team. We have all read or watched the moody, workaholic policeman whose dedication to the job takes the place of his family. His team are wary around him, but nonetheless respect his remarkable ability to get the job done. Well, Bill Slider is nothing like that. He’s happily married to a professional musician, who is about to have their second child in this instalment. And his father and stepmother live close-by and provide support in the form of meals and occasional childcare when work commitments become too pressing. It was refreshing to see a career policeman with a happy home life.

While everyone treats the victim and witnesses with professional respect, there were times when I grinned at the humour between Slider and Atherton as they questioned suspects, combed through CCTV footage, and checked out alibis. Indeed, I was interested to see just how crucial that CCTV footage became to the solving of the case. The denouement worked really well, with a sense of sadness over the waste of a young man’s life – by the end of the investigation, I felt that I knew him quite well. Highly personable and incredibly good looking, Erik with a ‘k’ had a gift for making people fall in love with him – not just inexperienced, pretty young girls – but clever, successful people, too.

Along with the strong characterisation, clever plotting and effective scene setting, and a nicely apt title – the full quote is Jealousy is cruel as the grave – I found myself thinking about this story after I finished the book, which is always a bonus. Highly recommended for fans of British police procedural whodunits – and yes… I know it’s the 22nd book in a long-running series and no, I haven’t read all of them. But I still thoroughly enjoyed this one, anyway. While I obtained an arc of Cruel as the Grave from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Severn House for providing an advance ebook in exchange for an honest review.
I've read Cynthia Harrod-Eagles for years, and by now, getting stuck in one of her books is like meeting old friends for tea or a pint. The books are never cookie cutter (although the titles make them sound like it, an always-odd counterpoint to her jocular chapter titles), and this one is no exception. 

Erik with a "K" has been found dead by his recently-dumped girlfriend, his head bashed in with a weight, quite fitting as he was a personal trainer with a perfect body and only the most perfunctory relationships. Slider, Atherton et al. soon find that there is a trail of former partners behind Erik, of whom several of his acquaintances say he "loved money." Did Erik's love of filthy lucre get him mixed up with a murderer?

Harrod-Eagles is deft with dialog and is great at giving a gesture of a character (will McLaren ever be without a food item? No, no he will not), and equally good at giving the bits of home life for Slider and, to a lesser degree, Atherton. Atherton continues to be a handsome louche, and I'm hoping he either gets more storyline, OR all his f*ckery catches up with him. Bill and Joanna continue to be relationship goals and are pregnant again (this drama plays out right at the close of business, just in time for the happy ending).

All in all, another grand outing for this team. Loved it.
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If you enjoy procedurals, especially British procedurals, you will love Cruel as the Grave by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. I have been following this series for quite a while, but each book works well as a standalone. The book has an engaging plot with lots of witty banter, puns, and word play especially between DI Bill Slider and his colleague DS Jim Atherton. I have gotten to know these characters and love jumping into a new book in the series to see what’s new in their lives and what case they’ll be tackling now. 

When Erik Lingoss, a narcissistic personal trainer with a lucrative side income from his “special clients” is murdered, the evidence starts piling up against one unexpected suspect, but something seems off. Slider and his dedicated team keep digging until they can uncover the full truth about Erik’s death. I was engrossed in this story from the very beginning and was surprised when the killer was revealed. For readers already following the series, there is an important event in Slider’s personal life that takes place towards the end that you won’t want to miss. I really liked the book and would rate it 4.5 stars. I hope this series continues since I really enjoy spending time with the main characters. They are interesting, likeable, and good at their jobs. 

I received this ebook from NetGalley through the courtesy of Severn House. An advance copy was provided to me at no cost, but my review is voluntary and unbiased.
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Who smashed in Erik Lindross' head?  DCI Bill Slider is pretty sure that it wasn't his latest girlfriend, a 19 year old who might have been covered with his blood but doesn't seem like the right answer.   Along with his partner DS Jim Atherton, he starts through a long list of others who had reason to dislike the fitness trainer.  Although this is a procedural, it  conveys like a grittier cozy.  I've only read a few in this long running series and this was fine as a standalone.  I like the characters - there's good interplay between Slider and Atherton in particular- who feel moe well rounded in their lives than most in the genre. It's also got some good chuckles.   Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.    A good read.
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Bill Slider and his team have a conundrum of a case. A personal trainer was found murdered by a dumped girlfriend covered in blood. Did she do it? Or is she innocent? If not her, then who? The case leads them on a round-robin chase of physical fitness centers, personal relationships, and family before honing in on one suspect. But is she being set up? Atherton and the lot have plenty of fodder for quips and quotes. A nice wrap-up to the case and Bill has a new addition to his family!

Thanks Netgalley for the opportunity to read this title.
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Cynthia Harrod-Eagles is an author with a wonderful sense of humour. It permeates almost every page of her novel, from her amusing chapter headings (so rare to see these days) to the relaxed banter between her investigators. Reading one of her novels is always an uplifting experience however dark the subject matter. And it is always reassuring when an author is as obviously well read as Cynthia is.
There's a complex web of human relationships in this story of an handsome, murdered fitness trainer. Amongst all the chaos of a murder enquiry the author's evocative writing creates a welcome sense of calm.
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hank you to NetGalley and Severn House Publishing for an e-galley of this novel.

Once again I settled down for an entertaining interlude with one of my favorite groups of British cops. The Bill Slider novels by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles are police procedurals that take the reader along as a murder investigation is worked by a team I enjoy coming back to. This crime takes us into the world of the private fitness trainers who focus on the wealthy clients who are willing to pay top dollar for results. It's all a matter of figuring out what results each client wanted to accomplish. Because this novel is an example of how this team begins with practically no information and develops the case until they can solve it, readers are invited to follow along through all the normal starts and stops of an investigation into murder. Sometimes watching an investigation unfold in this way can mean slow portions of the book where nothing much seems to be happening. However, this author is very good at sensing just how far she can go without any clues or results before readers get antsy.

The team of investigators have been working together for quite a while now and that helps round them off regarding their interchanges with one another. Individual thinking is encouraged, Slider doesn't resent having someone on the team find a pivotal clue just as long as they all work together. Deputy Superintendent Porson is back making comments you might just slip over if you aren't paying attention. There is quite a bit of family interaction in this series, something I don't normally enjoy much but I'm okay with it here because it's kept to essential interruptions to the investigation to supply background for how individuals are responding to their job.

This was another good read for me in the Bill Slider series. It's always nice to come away from a book feeling like you've thoroughly enjoyed yourself.
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DCI Slider Tackles a Particularly Complex Case

The novel opens with DCI Slider and Atherton arriving at the crime scene. The victim was found in his bedroom that had a large mirror covering the window and much physical training equipment. He turned out to be a personal trainer who had his head bashed in with one of his barbells. Upon search of his apartment, police found 13,000 pounds in a shoebox in the wardrobe and 700 more in an envelope under the pillow. The main story line proceeds from here.

The main storyline starts like any other police procedural. Things change when the facts and circumstances start to be determined. For me it seems like they were trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle made up with a handful of pieces from several different puzzles. Facts started to fit together, but then they didn’t. They seem to start creating another puzzle. To me, it just didn’t seem like the normal twists and turns that I am used to reading. It kept my interest throughout the novel. This is my major requirement for a high star rating.

The B-storyline was more just the current happening in the main characters lives. It did not go into much depth, but was there with the talk between the major characters that did give depth to the characters. As this is the 22nd novel in the series, it may be difficult for new material for background. 

There are not any intimate scenes, but the victim was providing personal services beyond physical training services. As for language, it was surprising light. The violence is all described after the fact. Therefore, these aspects of the novel should not be objectionable to most readers. One suggestion is to read this novel on an e-reader as I had to search the Internet for more British informal words and phrases more than any other British author’s book that I have ever read. Several phrases I could not determine at all what they meant. This didn’t affect my star rating.

I have only one minor negative remark about this book. As I mentioned above, I only have read one previous book in this series and that was almost four years ago. The author just used the name for many of DCI Slider’s team the name without their rank so I did not have a clue where they fit in, Detectives or Constables. It appears that after so many novels in this series, it is assumed that the reader knows the basic cast of characters. This was not a big problem but just an interruption in the flow of the novel as I tried to figure out who this new character was and their role in the novel. Many were introduced without even using their police ranks. That would have helped.

This novel did capture my interest, but even ignoring all the minor issues that I had, this novel did not rise to the level that I would want to read late into the night. I could put it down. Since this novel didn’t quite reach to the same level of novels that I rate with five stars, I rate this novel with four stars. This novel was enjoyable read, and will read further novels in this series if written, and recommend reading this novel if it appears appealing to you or have read and enjoyed previous novels in his series.

I have received a free e-book version of this novel through NetGalley from Severn House with an expectation for an honest, unbiased review. I wish to thank Severn House for the opportunity to read and review this novel early.
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Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, Severn House for this Advanced Reader Copy and the opportunity to review “Cruel as the Grave.” All opinions are my own.

To begin – fitness fanatic’s been murdered.  Conventional wisdom says the latest girlfriend did it.  But our Bill Slider has his doubts.  They let her go, and have to start putting together a case for other suspects.  Who did the guy make angry?  What’s the lad been up to?  Fella seems rather boring, except for the womanizing and the mounds of hidden cash.  Expect Slider and his cohorts to figure it out handily in “Cruel in the Grave,” the 22nd in the series.  How can you go wrong with a book where one of the characters is described as having “teeth so big you could have tiled a swimming pool with them?”  Well, you can’t, not with Cynthia Harrod-Eagles behind the words.  

Lots of folks in this book have alibis, but wonky ones, and also a lot of ‘em don’t have a whole lot of brains, so Slider and his crew are having to take their time to figure this one out.  And what’s the deal when we finally meet the famous writer and her husband?  Because it can’t be that easy.  Get your little grey cells working.

Jealousy, blackmail, more jealousy.  Slider has to remind his detectives they’re not just doing an intellectual puzzle; they have a murder victim.  Okay, he was a slimeball, but, still.  There’s a bunch of pieces to put together – it’s a good thing that Britain has so many of those traffic cameras, for they help to bring a killer to heel.  As Atherton, Slider’s bagman, reminds us, “it keeps us in a job.”

Always happy to dive into another DI Bill Slider book.  Guaranteed to be top notch entertainment while offering up a thorough police investigation.  And as usual, the chapter headings are hilarious.  The book is straightforward, no nonsense prose, with the humor built-in that’s a cornerstone of the series.  Oh, and of course, there’s always a side story with family, and thus Joanna, the pregnant Mrs. Slider; for longtime fans of the series (and you should be), it’s time for that baby!  Read the book to find out what happens.
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Ever said, "I would kill for that body"?

Someone actually does in the new Bill Slider. But who?

-- One of the teenagers Erik, the personal trainer, specializies in loving and leaving?
-- Erik's best friend, for loving and leaving his sister?
-- One of his rich clients?

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles tells the story in her usual brilliant way, treating readers to updates on the lives of series principals, mixing the telling with many a pun and supervisory-level malapropism.

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I would like to thank Netgalley and Severn House Publishers for an advance copy of Cruel as the Grave, the twenty second novel to feature DCI Bill Slider of the Met.

Personal trainer Erik Lingoss is found battered to death with his own dumbbell by the girlfriend he just dumped. With blood on her clothes and an obsession with Erik she is immediately the prime suspect, but she didn’t leave £700 under his pillow or steal his mobile so perhaps there’s more to it.

I thoroughly enjoyed Cruel as the Grave which is an engrossing police procedural that held my attention from start to finish. To be fair, it isn’t the most original plot ever conceived but it works well and the author puts her own original stamp on it. I love a good police procedural as I like the format, the way it starts wide open to suspects and motives and narrows the field as facts emerge. I also enjoy the competing interpretations of these facts and the various interview strategies to obtain these facts. This novel has it all in spades as it revolves around the victimology, Erik Lingoss is hard to pin down, seemingly offering different versions of himself to different people. I think it is a clever novel which offers so many options before honing in on a chief suspect. There is food for thought throughout via a steady stream of reveals.

The novel is told entirely from the investigative point of view, mostly Bill Slider, but other members of the team jump in as required. I love the banter between the characters which makes me smile, but underlines their camaraderie and commitment. There is a good mixture of theory and forensics, not least CCTV which has become the detective’s new best friend. Ok, I won’t rant about big brother, but it’s an interesting topic.

Cruel as the Grave is a good read that I have no hesitation in recommending.
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Another wonderful outing with Bill Slider.  Harrod-Eagles's books are the high point of police procedurals for me - a great mystery but also witty, funny and with a cast of characters I care about and who represent real life.  Five stars.
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Dialogue Dances Off The Page.....
Bill Slider returns in this new instalment, unbelievably the twenty second in the series. A series which simply gets better and better, if that’s possible, by the book. Another wholly entertaining tale with wonderfully drawn characters, a compelling narrative and dryly witty dialogue which simply dances off the page. First class.
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I declare a bias. I have always loved the Bill Slider novels and their author, and this latest instalment does not disappoint.  Cruel as the Grave features the usual ingredients and  cast - including the dead body of an exceedingly good looking male fitness trainer, with no obvious motivation for murder. As always, Slider and his sidekick Atherton refuse to accept the obvious without proof, and get their regular team to uncover all sorts of information and evidence whilst being pressed for result by their chief, Porson,  and his mangled use of the English language. What I always enjoy, apart from the atrocious chapter heading puns, and the delicious dialogue and banter between Slider, heavily pregnant wife Joanna, and his police colleagues is the minute descriptions of the cast's foibles and characteristics along with showcasing the unremitting and painstaking work of the police in gathering evidence. That all said, if you are coming to this series for the first time, do not be put off. Prior knowledge is not a pre-requisite; it is very easy to pick up who is whom, and whilst a classic "whodunit" it is, as always, an entertaining read.
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