A new detective for us to consider – set in Manchester this story is full of the grey, wet, dull, and dreary feel that Manchester novels often have. Which to be fair, is what Manchester often resembles – a very wet city every time I visit, when not snowing..
It is an interesting take as here we see what the role of a Coroner is and their investigative powers as against the police. A Coroner [also called a Medical Examiner] has a number of specific tasks/roles to determine the manners and causes of death – they w also visit death scenes, identify human remains, supervise the transportation of corpses, operate crime scene equipment, complete death certificates and notify the next of kin.
Coroners have Investigators or Officers attached to them who inquiry into the circumstances of deaths that are:
sudden and of unknown cause; are due to unnatural causes;
or deaths that occur in custody.
Coroners’ officers are often the main point of contact for the coroner’s office and will liaise or speak to:
bereaved relatives and family representatives;
doctors and other health professionals;
police, and other emergency services;
registrars of births and deaths;
pathologists and mortuary staff and others as relevant depending on the case.
So the Officer undertakes the bulk of the work and takes on a role that mimics what we assume the police might do, or may in fact be the prime investigative officer for a sudden death deciding whether or not the case requires a Coroner to call it a homicide and thus require a formal police investigation.
Until reading this novel I had notrealised just how much work this Office undertakes and can see how it would be an excellent role for an ex-police or officer needing lighter duties.
Hence we find Ridpath allocated to this role as he recovers from his cancer.
Ridpath is not quite as angst ridden as we now expect our police to be and thus makes for a different storyline which is refreshing. He is not an addict or alcoholic nor suffering from a traumatic divorce, though his wife is none too pleased with him and his attitude to work and looking after his health.
I think his has the makings of a nice series as the characters develop and Ridpath becomes more familiar with his role.