Book Review: Watch Over You by M.J. Ford
Third in the series about Oxford murder squad detective Josie Masters, this is a twisty, complex police procedural with a lot of disparate threads. You don’t want to be reading this while distracted, or put it down for a long time between reading sessions, because I think it would be easy to lose the threads and find it all very confusing. With that said, I actually thoroughly enjoyed it, because the author ties some apparently totally different cases together really cleverly and nothing is as it appears on the surface.
I’m going to address the elephant in the room by saying that now is a tough time to be writing stories with ‘good cops’ as the protagonists, but I think even the most fervent ‘abolish the police’ protestors would agree that the murder squad are police we will still need. However, the fact is that in a world with better resourced social services, lower or zero rates of homelessness and people who actually ask the hard questions and listen to answers when twelve-year-old girls turn up pregnant, Josie wouldn’t have had any murders to investigate. And that’s recognised in the text, if in a subtle way.
It’s easy to empathise with Josie as a single mother trying to get back into the swing of things at work just weeks after giving birth, only to find herself thrown in at the deep end when a friend is murdered. Josie’s not a rule-bender, just a proponent of solid investigative work and intelligent questioning when she gets a witness or a suspect to talk to. I think going forward we’ll see a lot more ‘smart cops’ portrayed in fiction and a lot less of the short-cutters who are inclined to beat up a suspect to get answers. Anyone who wants to write a sympathetic police protagonist could learn a lot from M.J. Ford. I enjoyed this engrossing read and am happy to give it five stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.