The Insane and Dark World of Police Detectives
by Gareth L. Powell
Overnight, the rain had eased itself into nothingness, but the sky remained bruised and resentful. ―
Gareth L. Powell, Ragged Alicex
In Gareth L. Powell’s Ragged Alice a detective in a small Welsh town can literally see the evil in people’s souls.
Orphaned at an early age, DCI Holly Craig grew up in the small Welsh coastal town of Pontyrhudd. As soon as she was old enough, she ran away to London and joined the police. Now, fifteen years later, she’s back in her old hometown to investigate what seems at first to be a simple hit-and-run, but which soon escalates into something far deadlier and unexpectedly personal—something that will take all of her peculiar talents to solve.
Kindle Edition, 202 pagesPublished April 23rd 2019 by Tor.comOriginal TitleRagged AliceASINB07HF2Q1CVEdition LanguageEnglishLiterary AwardsBritish Science Fiction Association Award Nominee for Best Shorter Fiction (2019)
Ragged Alice, a novella by author Gareth L. Powell is a whole lot of information in a tiny package. It is one of the novellas that had me shouting, “why aren’t you a full novel?” A problem that novellas and short stories can run into is trying to do too much in a small amount of narrative time. When doing too much, and covering to much ground, it can come off flat because of the lack of character definition, exposition, and world-building. Powell’s novel is such a good premise but comes off as rushed because there is not enough of it to connect thoroughly to everything.
If an evening’s worth of whiskey kept from killing herself, it was the next morning’s tea that truly kept her alive. ―
Gareth L. Powell, Ragged Alice
The premise is thus, “Orphaned at an early age, DCI Holly Craig grew up in the small Welsh coastal town of Pontyrhudd.” Holly is a damaged inspector type character. She has been broken by her past and is held together with tea and whiskey in equal parts. After fifteen years in London, Holly is back on assignment in Pontyrhudd. A town full of all sorts of ghosts, both literal and figurative. Holly has a peculiar “gift” that helps her solve cases and determine the innocence of suspects, and now she gets to use this gift on a hit and run case in her hometown.
Ragged Alice is a good story, Powell is an excellent author but try as I might this story came off as midgrade. Enjoyable, but didn’t stay with me. I did not care as much about Holly as I wanted to, and due to the format of a novella, there wasn’t enough meat to bring more story elements in that would allow me to connect. Don’t let this put you off this story or Powell in general. He is a killer author, but this book didn’t allow him to shine.
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Where to find it?
I checked this out from the library.
About the Author
Gareth L. Powell is an award-winning author from the UK. His alternate history thriller, Ack-Ack Macaque won the 2013 BSFA Award for Best Novel, spawned two sequels, and was shortlisted in the Best Translated Novel category for the 2016 Seiun Awards in Japan. His short fiction has appeared in a host of magazines and anthologies, including Interzone, Solaris Rising 3, and The Year’s Best Science Fiction, and his story ‘Ride The Blue Horse’ made the shortlist for the 2015 BSFA Award.
Where to Find Them