At 8am the first shots are fired.
At 1pm, the police establish the gunman has a hostage.
By 5pm, a siege is underway.
At 9pm, DI Helen Birch walks, alone and unarmed, into an abandoned Borders farmhouse to negotiate with the killer.
A novel told in real time is always original and A Matter of Time was no exception. Beginning at 7am we meet Detective Inspector Birch, looking forward to a relaxing day ahead, she has a late start and a visit to her brother planned prior to commencing work. Shots are fired at an agricultural show before 9am and by 11am DI Birch realises her calm day is not to be as police resources are utilised and the situation is known to be more serious. The story progresses hour by hour over the course of that day.
This was a decent piece of crime fiction, the real time telling offered a level of detail as information was revealed and was a skilful way of writing. DI Birch, for reasons that become clear is the only person the armed killer will speak to and much of the story is her time with him in a derelict farmhouse. It is during this time that we learn more about the shooter, his motive and what may have occurred.
At under 300 pages this was not a long read and while the chapters were not short, they were of a length that kept the pages turning. I liked this novel, although aspects of the time when Birch and the gunman were together were a bit slow. News reports were used to tell small parts of the story as were social media postings by the gunman, I liked these as they varied the writing.
This is a crime series I previously reviewed Cover Your Tracks here which was the 3rd book in the DI Birch series, A Matter of Time is the 4th. That said these books read well as standalone crime fiction, especially this one with the real time format.
A good choice for fans of crime fiction, told slightly differently so should appeal. This is a blog tour so please do checkout what others are saying about A Matter of Time.
Thank you to Jenny at Hodder for inviting me to be involved with this social media promotion and gifting me a hardback copy of the book.
About the Author
Claire Askew is a poet, novelist and the current Writer in Residence at the University of Edinburgh. Claire holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh and has won a variety of accolades for her work, including the Jessie Kesson Fellowship and a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award. Her debut novel All the Hidden Truths won the Scottish Crime Debut of the Year in 2019, and was shortlisted for two CWA Awards.