Adrienne Martini Reviews Ragged Alice by Gareth L. Powell

Ragged Alice, Gareth L. Powell ( Pub­lishing 978-1-250-22018-9, $14.99, 202pp, tp) April 2019.

In this novella, Powell introduces DCI Holly Craig, a London-based detective who has de­cided to move back to her native Wales in this Broadchurch-esque mystery. The detective grew up in the seaside town Pontyrhudd, where things aren’t always what they seem and the residents are colorful. A young woman has been murdered and Craig’s untangling of the case will lead her to examine her own mother’s murder, which took place long before Craig had any memory of her mom. More bodies start turning up, all killed in the same unusual manner. Only the unique combo of Craig’s history, detective work, and special senses can solve the crime.

Ragged Alice packs so much story into its short length that it wouldn’t have been unwelcome to add a few thousand more words to let it breathe a little. As it now stands, the killings come so close together that it breaks our willing suspension of disbelief, because the regional office doesn’t seem too upset about the speed and quantity of them. A few thousand more words would have fleshed out Craig, her partner, and a few of the denizens of this moody little town in satisfying ways. While the story as it stands is interesting enough, Powell is welcome to stick around for a while to tells us more about it.

Adrienne Martini has been reading or writing about science fiction for decades and has had two non-fiction, non-genre books published by Simon and Schuster. She lives in Upstate New York with one husband, two kids, and one corgi. She also runs a lot.

This review and more like it in the June 2019 issue of Locus.

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