Beyond the Pales by Toby Cole

On Tuesday I teased a few readers with a sample from this book.  Now here is my review.

“Why is a Forensic Anthropologist murdered in the largest cemetery in Britain?  Detective Superintendent Pandora Kingdom needs to find out and fast. As well as battling the killer, she has her own demons to deal with. She lost her arm and leg while police mentoring in Afghanistan. Does she still have the strength for the hunt?” 


So reads the blurb for this interesting detective story.  Pandora is a gutsy, vibrant woman, determined to solve the first case she has been given after receiving her prosthetic arm and leg.  She is still very much all woman wanting to re-engage in relationships but she is also a professional who will stop at nothing to solve a crime.  She also has a very likeable, dry humour which many people she meets do not appreciate.


The narrative is told in Pandora’s words, perhaps a strange choice for a male author but it works.  Toby Cole’s knowledge as a retired police officer, who also served in Afghanistan, gives authority to the storyline and his descriptions of Brookwood Cemetery and the surrounding area are atmospheric and convincing.  The scene at Porton Down is particularly eerie.

The other characters in the book are rather insubstantial.  Pandora reacts to them but doesn’t give us sufficient information for them to be well rounded.  Her son, Simon is almost transparent.  He is a facilitator rather than a person.  In contrast, Danny, the dead British soldier from Afghanistan who appears from time to time to talk to Pandora, has character and personality.

One thing this book desperately needed, was a good proof-reader to spot the many grammatical errors and a few spelling mistakes.  Toby is such an imaginative, creative writer that it is a pity for these flaws to interrupt such a thrilling story.

The plot is complex and inventive with a sprinkling of red herrings and a super twist at the end.  Pandora is a tenacious Dr Who-like heroine aided partially by her side-kick, handsome MI5 officer Steve Bridger.  I will certainly look out for Pandora’s next case.

Published by lizannelloyd

Love history, reading, researching and writing. Articles published in My Family History and other genealogy magazines.

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