Publication Date: December 3, 2012
In Violation: A Sgt. Crane Novel by Wendy Cartmell, detective sergeant Major Crane is called into a local investigation of rape and murder when the primary suspect turns out to be a man stationed on the base. When one of his own is attacked, Sgt. Major Crane knows that evil is closer to home than he’d like. With the stress of an unhappy wife and new child at home, can he solve the case and stop the killer? Violation: A Sgt. Crane Novel is the third novel in the Sgt. Major Crane series.
The author, Wendy Cartmell, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
Sgt. Major Crane is a cop first and foremost, so to many readers Violation: A Sgt. Crane Novel will read like a police procedural. The military is a complication, a distraction. Crane has a good relationship with the local constabulary and D.I. Anderson’s wife even stopping in to help Mrs. Crane. There is a trust between the Aldershot Police and the military that leads them to lean on each other in an interesting way.
In Crane, we get a very well-rounded and established character with deep flaws that are realistic. His home life isn’t off camera because his life doesn’t stop when he’s investigating. He doesn’t understand why his wife can’t keep the nursery organized (he has a system that only works if everything is in its place) but understands she’s on an edge and tries. He desperately wants to solve this case and stop the crime from happening again and he does evolve from the perspective that they asked for it with the way they dressed with genuine empathy. Cartmell melds Crane’s home life with the mystery story line making for a very average and really good guy trying to do right.
Cartmell’s subplot includes male rape within the military compound. We hear of male rapes happening and are told its rare, but the author attributes that rarity to the embarrassment the men suffer.Violation: A Sgt. Crane Novel features intermittent letters, some of which are written by this young soldier to his attacker, the young man who helped him come to know that he should speak up and Sgt. Major Crane in appreciation for not pushing the issue. The letters highlight the struggle of the victim, the soldier’s embarrassment and degradation keeping him from coming forward. Cartmell’s sensitive and light touch with placement in the story line gives the reader cause for pause to consider the plight of such young victims.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the giant elephant in the room that is in Tammy’s mind. Ninety-nine percent of my readers will not have a problem with a novel written in present tense. They will read the novel and see a well-plotted police/military procedural written well. I have said before on this blog that books written in present tense — especially in the overriding way — this one is — gives me a headache. “Crane worries about his wife and is not sure she will be OK.” That’s not a direct quote from the novel but an example of the form. Many people find such syntax in the moment while I find it disconnected. What was a really good novel in my mind would have been made better with a shift of tense? This is a personal preference but one that truly bothered me.
One last note is for my American/Canadian friends and readers — this is a very British novel in its syntax so let me help you with one of the terms — “Beaker” = Coffee Mug. Thank you, Hyacinth Bucket (“Keeping up Appearances”).
Violation: A Sgt. Crane Novel was a fabulous novel. If you like novels by Lee Child, Brian Haig and the Hamish McBeth series by MC Beaton, Sgt. Major Crane will be your new perfect series.
If this sounds like a book for you, read an excerpt and buy Violation: A Sgt. Crane Novel by Wendy Cartmell on