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Crossbones Yard by Kate Rhodes


Kate Rhodes is the author of a mystery series now in it’s fourth installment, though she is new to me.  I have now finished reading – one right after the other – all of her novels, and look forward to the next. 


Crossbones Yard begins the series featuring Dr. Alice Quentin, a talented young psychologist who works at Guys Hospital in London. Alice is called in by the police to assist in the solving of a murder that seems to have a little too much resemblance to a past crime – the convicted murderers notorious at the time.

Though Kate Rhodes now lives in English countryside she knows London well, and all of her novels are set in the city. For me, and I am sure for many others, that is part of the appeal of her novels. I spent a summer many many years ago working in London and though I have visited since it has not been recently – so it was a pleasure to follow Alice through the present day city, running, cycling or simply strolling.

Alice does her best to balance her professional life with a difficult personal life involving her needy brother. She works with patients very much in need of help to manage their everyday lives. Alice accepts that she, herself, has a legacy of psychological damage from her own childhood that she must deal with in order to have any sort of fulfilling relationships in her adult life.

I was a little apprehensive about reading Crossbones Yard, concerned it might be a little too menacing for me – and it is a little. I don’t like novels that have characters who are stalked, or confined – a few words here and there are all right but not when it is a significant part of the story.

So, although the character of Alice Quentin is one of a woman who has grown up in a brutal home and has lasting claustrophobia as a result of her childhood experiences I was able – as is she – to survive this particular novel. This series is a little more grisly than those I most enjoy – but somehow the characters, the setting and the suspenseful story make it possible for me to quickly read through the bits that make me uncomfortable.

With each installment we learn more about Alice, and her brother, Will, who causes her constant concern. Alice’s mother has her own way of coping with the past. She and Alice maintain contact but it is not easy. Alice must accept that though the past cannot be changed, perhaps it can be accommodated. 

Alice’s great friend, Lola, is a constant and brings pleasure to the lives of all who know her, and of course there are relationships with those Alice works with at the hospital and the police station. With each novel all of these characters develop and more is revealed about the past.

I found myself fascinated by the insight that Alice is able to provide to the police about how a criminal might think and behave based on her psychological assessment of the person – and the crime.

Kate Rhodes says, “Give me a free afternoon curled up by the fire with Raymond Chandler, Henning Mankel or Louise Penny and I’m a happy woman!” Any of us who enjoy reading mystery novels know exactly how she feels – and we’ll add Kate Rhodes herself to this list. 


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