The publishers at Mantle Books kindly sent me The Coroner by M.R.Hall, the first on the Jenny Cooper series, a month ago and I was in awe when I opened the parcel because I really, really wanted to read it. The best part was that I had no idea what was waiting for me…
From Book Depository:
When lawyer, Jenny Cooper, is appointed Severn Vale District Coroner, she’s hoping for a quiet life and space to recover from a traumatic divorce, but the office she inherits from the recently deceased Harry Marshall contains neglected files hiding dark secrets and a trail of buried evidence. Could the tragic death in custody of a young boy be linked to the apparent suicide of a teenage prostitute and the fate of Marshall himself? Jenny’s curiosity is aroused. Why was Marshall behaving so strangely before he died? What injustice was he planning to uncover? And what caused his abrupt change of heart? In the face of powerful and sinister forces determined to keep both the truth hidden and the troublesome coroner in check, Jenny embarks on a lonely and dangerous one-woman crusade for justice which threatens not only her career but also her sanity.
The first thing I would like to say is that I love Jenny Cooper. I admire her and I would want to be her if I could still grow up. But I can’t, so I just allow myself to admire her complexity. M.R Hall has created a truly human female main character even now that women are writing male main characters and has made her so human as a literary character can be, which is a lot. As I kept reading The Coroner, I found myself more attracted to Jenny and her troubles and, even though I can only partially relate to her anxiety problems, I understood her. And her daily survival, struggle and coping were so inspiring that I was thankful for having encountered her.
The novel, divided into chapters, is full of legal vocabulary but not so much as to get lost. M.R. Hall makes huge efforts to help the reader understand everything without being patronizing or losing any detail. The style is accessible and I had no problems following the plot or any of the cases, from a legal point of view.
The pace is something I would like to highlight: The Coroner is one of those unputdownable books, one in which you never lose interest. I think all credit goes to the author and his use of time: the reader gets to see a development but in a not too-long period of time so that you never get bored.
As any crime novel, it reflects on some of our society’s worst flaws. However, due to the legal nature of the plot, non-English people may find it difficult to identify the system (legal, political etc) that is portrayed in the novel. I did not have any problems, but had to check some positions on the internet so as to compare them with those of my country. Once you research a little bit, it is all easy to understand.
I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a great, “five stars” reading and especially to crime fiction fans. I think it is very difficult to be disappointed with The Coroner and Jenny Cooper. I am glad we’ll be seeing so much of her in the future: the series continues and The Coroner is being adapted as a TV show. So, keep your eyes open!
Loving the novel so much as I did, I dared to ask M.R. HALL for a short interview. I had a lot of questions regarding the novel, especially why he had chosen to write a woman instead of a man as the main character. Lucky me, I got all my answers and more! You can read the exclusive interview here:
Special thanks to the publishers at Mantle Books for sending me a review copy of The Coroner in exchange for my honest review and to M.R.Hall for answering so quickly and so sincerely the questions of a huge Jenny Cooper fan.