Quick and the Dead

A contemporary British mystery

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Pub Date 01 Jun 2016 | Archive Date 04 Apr 2016
Severn House, Severn House Publishers

Description

“Aficionados of British crime fiction can’t get enough, and this fresh mystery will satisfy their cravings”
Library Journal Starred Review

Introducing outspoken female sleuth Alex Quick in the first of a brand-new mystery series

When her business partner, acclaimed art historian and university professor Dr Helena Drummond, disappears, Alexandra Quick is consumed by guilt. Shortly before she vanished, Helena had complained of being menaced by a stalker, and Alex had dismissed her fears as groundless. Now Alex, a former police detective, is determined to use her finely-honed investigative skills to find out what’s happened to her friend and colleague.

But the more she uncovers, the more Alex realizes how little she really knew Dr Helena Drummond. As it becomes increasingly clear that the woman she thought she knew so well has been keeping a great many secrets from her, Alex must decide: is Helena a victim … or is she a killer?
“Aficionados of British crime fiction can’t get enough, and this fresh mystery will satisfy their cravings”
Library Journal Starred Review

Introducing outspoken female sleuth Alex Quick in the first of...

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ISBN 9780727885883
PRICE $32.95 (USD)

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Average rating from 41 members


Featured Reviews

Former cop Alexandra Quick feels more than a little guilt when her business partner, Dr. Helena Drummond disappears. The professor and art historian had confided to Alex that she was being stalked, but Alex had dismissed the woman’s concerns out of hand. Now, Alex will use the skills she learned as a detective to try to find her friend, but as the more information Alex uncovers, the more confused she becomes. It seems that Helena was not the person Alex thought, far from it. If you want a twisted tale that will keep you guessing until the end, pick up this fantastic mystery, you won’t be disappointed

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This is an intriguing mystery peopled by interesting, intelligent people. Alexandra Quick is a former police officer who left the police force after a divorce and miscarriage. She now, with her partner Helena Drummond, curates art books, putting together famous pictures with stories about them. The two women have an important meeting with a prospective new publisher but Helena does not show up. When Alex goes to her home to find out why she did not show, she finds a murdered and mutilated woman who is not Helena. But Helena is nowhere to be found. The police believe Helena to be the murderer, but Alex is convinced she could not possibly have done such a horrible deed and because of her police background she determines to investigate the crime herself. I was hooked on this book from the first page and you will be too!

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Alex Quick is smart and capable. Still recovering from a bad marriage and giving up a career she loved, she has bounced back to a certain degree with the help of her business partner. I enjoyed the relationship details of the friendship between these two characters. They were drawn to each other and worked well together, despite being quite opposite in disposition and lifestyle. The build up to the central mystery was well done, the characters grew more developed as time went on, with Alex discovering she didn't know as much about her friend, or herself, as she thought. All in all, a very satisfying read, I would be interested in further books based on these characters.

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**This Review will appear on my blog - link below - on 14th February 2016** Alex Quick is a former detective. After the breakdown of her marriage to a fellow officer, she set out on a new career compiling art anthologies in collaboration with her friend Dr Helena Drummond, an academic. When Helena disappears and Alex discovers a mutilated body in Helena's house she resurrects her own detective skills to try and find her friend as she is certain she hasn't committed the murder. I found the graphic description of the corpse a bit too much for my taste but the rest of the book was well worth reading. I thought it was written, the plot was sufficiently complex to keep me guessing and I like Alex as a character. This is the first book in a new series so I shall definitely be watching out for the next one. If you enjoy crime novels which feature amateur sleuths then this may be a book to add to your reading list. Overall I enjoyed it. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review.

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Alex and Helena are creating books together. They pick art photographs, collate them in book form and create text to explain their significance. They contrast each other and that works well in their book endeavors. When they quit for the day, Alex reminds her that they have a meeting the next day to put together a book deal and that Helena needs to be there and be on time. She promises she will. But she doesn't show up... Severn House and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review. It will be published May 1st. When Alex goes to Helena's home to see what happened, she finds a dead body in the bedroom. She's afraid it's Helena but it's not. She has no idea who this blonde is but she's definitely dead. For a while, Helena is believed to be the killer. Alex is determined to find Helena and clear her name. She sifts through relatives, ex-husbands, and other people who were connected with her. She also figures out who the dead woman is. Then she talks to the people who knew her. None of it is connecting together yet. I had an idea of why the lady got killed but had no idea who killed her. The ending is tense and suspenseful. Three women have died before the end and it's all because someone's mind came unhinged. Be careful out there, the world is a dangerous place.

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I would like to thank NetGalley and Severn House Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest and open review. This is the first book I've read by Ms Moody and as I enjoyed it so much it won't be the last. It was a book I was drawn into immediately. It was extremely well-written and I particularly liked her character descriptions. I was able to visualize each one. I kept thinking I knew what was going to happen next and who the murderer was. However, each time I guessed there was another twist, knocking my theory on the head. The only slight criticism I have was the abrupt ending. It has, however, whetted my appetite for book 2 in the series.

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First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Susan Moody, and Severn House Publishers for providing me with a copy of this book, which allows me to provide you with this review. Moody opens a new mystery path with a highly energetic Alex Quick. A former member of the police, soured by a cheating husband and crippling miscarriage, Quick turns her interests elsewhere and finds herself in the world of writing. After a few minor pieces receive modest publication, she turns to the world of art, another of her passions. Eventually collaborating with Dr. Helena Drummond, they prepare to pitch an idea to a small publisher in rural England. When Drummond does not turn up, Quick is left to wonder what could have happened. Thinking back to the various off-hand comments Drummond made about a stalker, Quick is left to wonder if there is some truth to it. Upon arrival at Drummond's home, Quick discovers a body, brutally massacred, with a striking resemblance to her friend. Using former police contacts, Quick is able to learn that the victim is not Drummond, but one Amy Morrison. Quick begins piecing together a backstory on Morrison while she continues to look for Drummond, who has seemingly gone on the lam. The more Quick is able to learn, the greater the chances that Dr. Helena Drummond might be a suspect in the Morrison murder. A manhunt begins, as Quick can do nothing but wait. Further investigation into the life and times of Amy Morrison turns up a sordid past and many people who have motive to kill her. When another body turns up, Quick must come to terms with what might have happened to Drummond while remaining fixated on solving the Morrison murder. An intriguing way to introduce a new character in what is sure to be an interesting series, should Moody continue on with it from hereon in. This is my first experience reading Moody and if this is a testament to her abilities, it will not be my last. While keeping the story simple, Moody is able to move it forward in an effective manner. She pulls the reader in with some backstory on Alex, but also leaves much unsaid. Alex's past does not flood the narrative, though there is also not a 'crime fighting heroine' that pervades the pages either. It is a wonderful mix of mystery, art history, and personal journey as one woman seeks to find the killer of a friend. Utilising a number of characters from many walks of life, the suspect list, though never formally large, is on offer and the reader can speculate alongside a sleuthing Alex Quick. When everything comes together in the end, it is no whodunit shocker, though there are some surprises along the way and the rationale is intriguing to the attentive reader. Moody effectively treats her readers to a great novel and potential series, with a raw writing style and an intriguing presentation style. Kudos, Madam Moody for this introductory novel into the life of Alex Quick. I do not it is not your last, for I am eager to see what else you have in store for her.

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Susan Moody’s Quick and the Dead is exactly the kind of mystery I want to fling in the face of my more intellectual friends who decry my preference for “frivolous” fiction – or, as they scathingly condemn such books, “mind candy.” First, you won’t find anything “frivolous” about Alex Quick, a former high-ranking homicide detective who left the force after finding out about her husband’s infidelities . . . and suffering a heart-rending miscarriage of the child she hadn’t known she carried. Second, no one who reads Quick and the Dead with a mind even partially pried open could dismiss this as “mind candy.” Instead, this is the highly literate fiction for which British mystery writers, in particular, are so well known – and well regarded. Think P.D. James, although I am not suggesting that Moody’s style is anything other than her own. Not for a moment. No, this is literature that just so happens to involve murder and other mysteries. The murder is disturbingly violent – and readers need to know that the initial depiction of the murder scene is disturbingly detailed as well. This is no comfortable cosy! Yet, I strongly recommend Quick and the Dead to readers who even think they may be able to handle it, and they can thank Moody’s deftness in dealing with the scene from there on out for that recommendation. Quick herself is so deeply affected by the violent killing that she cannot (and Moody does not) continue to dwell on these details. Instead, the restraint employed by the character and her creator serve to heighten the sense of heinousness without subjecting the reader’s mental imagery to further violence. Readers should also be prepared for a bit more than a sprinkling of four-letter words, in particular one that is usually considered the most objectionable by those of us who dislike them. (That includes me.) And yet, I still think readers who can possibly overlook their objections to graphic violence and obscene words should and would enjoy this novel. Some can’t, and those won’t. And that’s a pity, because this is a stunning read. Alex Quick is both tough and tender. It’s not just “cop-speak” when she blurts out such words. This is who she is, and that is how she would speak. Moody has created a complex, multi-dimensional character who fascinates, and I look forward to getting to know her better. I also look forward (and plan to look backward, too) to more from Moody. I like her way with words, even if I don’t like all of the words she employs, and I like her sense of story. The mystery begins when Quick discovers a dead woman in her colleague’s flat . . . and quickly realizes how little she knows about the woman with whom she works. Helena Drummond, the art historian with a body in her bed, is as much a mystery as the identity of the killer. “She comes across as so open and let-it-all-hang-outish, but in fact she gives almost nothing away. So I don’t know anything about her background or her family situation. Nothing. Apart from the fact that she’s been married twice,” Quick tells another character as she begins her search for her missing partner. She’s immediately stunned to learn that one of those husbands is a painter whose work she has long admired and has urged Helena to include in one of the compilations of pictures and text that they have published to much acclaim and some profit. The police, not surprisingly, want to find Helena, too. One does tend to wonder about the disappearance of a woman when another woman’s body is found, brutalized, in her bed. Quick is sure Helena couldn’t be involved . . . but the more she searches for answers, the more questions she finds. About Helena. About the victim. About herself. The intensity builds, as Moody layers mystery upon mystery, pulling the reader further and further into the story, swiping page after page until there is nothing left to discover. And that’s just as well, because, by then, the reader should be thoroughly satisfied, even satiated. One final warning: Readers may very well have a hard time settling on what to read next because, I promise, they will not want to settle for less. Note: Sis received an advanced reading copy from Severn House and NetGalley. This review reflects her opinions and only her opinions. The book is for sale, but Sis is not – nor has the publisher nor anyone else connected with this or any other book attempted to corrupt her.

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After the break-up of her marriage, detective Alex Quick leaves the police force and forges a career compiling art anthologies. When her business partner, Dr Helena Drummond, disappears and the body of a woman is found in the art historian’s home, Alex is determined to find the missing woman and discover whether she is a victim or the perpetrator of the crime. From quite early on in the book, it was obvious that this was not going to be a story for the fainthearted. The description of the body was extremely graphic and made me wince slightly. A word used by Alex, later in the book, to describe a part of the dead woman’s body also, seemed to me, to be out of character. Although the culprit wasn’t too difficult to identify, I did find that there were enough twists in the story to keep me interested. I’m also intrigued as to how the series will continue as this book didn’t pan out exactly as I thought it would!

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I am always open to reading anything by Susan Moody as she has proved to be an ace storyteller, and her new ‘sleuth’, ex-policewoman Alex Quick, steps right up to the mark. Ms Moody’s writing comes with wit and straight talking and this latest character, who is, I hope, emerging in the first of a long series, doesn’t mince her words. She is down to earth and uses strong language – good – because it is entirely believable for Alex Quick. It is a bit shocking to find a gruesomely mutilated, naked, unidentifiable corpse, in your best friend’s bed and said friend nowhere to be found. What would you do? The corpse bears a striking resemblance to her friend, Helena; could the killer have mistaken her identity? The mutilations were gory and explicit. Some might shy away from this; I can only say they’re not Val McDermid fans . . . and I think it was entirely proper to present the shocking details in this way, in this scene. I will also say that Susan Moody didn’t ‘milk it’ but left the image there for the reader to bear in mind when accompanying Alex on her quest for the killer. Quick’s post-police career is in the field of high-end art books, and her friend and partner in the business is the vanished lady in question, her absence possibly jeopardising a lucrative book deal. Alex is rightly miffed, till things begin to pan out in a disturbing way, starting with the discovery of the body, and leading her, via a series of suspects, into great personal danger. There are some interesting art facts slipped smoothly into the narrative, adding colour and flamboyance, and an urge to delve into the mentioned artists’ works on the next rainy day . . . but not before finishing the read, because Susan Moody writes page-turners. I don’t want to give away any of the plot – so I’ll simply say, be careful whom you trust . . . An excellent read from Susan Moody: I am grateful to NetGalley for a preview copy and recommend it unreservedly.

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This is a gripping and compelling mystery A must for any fan of British mysteries.

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Alexandra Quick was a police detective and is now in a partnership with her friend and professor Dr. Helena Drummond to write unique art history books. On the verge of signing a large contract, Helena disappears and now Alex feels guilty because she ignored her dramatic friend’s claim of being stalked. Alex fears the worst about what has happened to Helena, but then learns she is a main suspect in a brutal murder. Now it’s up to Alex to find Helena and learn the truth about her friend’s disappearance and the murder for which she is accused. Although no longer on the force, Alex goes about the investigation like a professional, which makes it very interesting to read. Alex is a strong, independent character and she is likeable. I would have enjoyed the book even more if she had made some better decisions during her search for Helena. At one point, she has a promising lead, but delays in following up. In addition, I felt there were a few things that could have been more clearly explained when the case was resolved. This is an interesting book and those who enjoy British procedurals should enjoy this mystery. I would rate the book 3.5 stars. I received this book from NetGalley, through the courtesy of Severn House Publishers. The books was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

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