Friday, December 21, 2012

Steps to Heaven by Wendy Cartmell Military Police Thriller!

English: All Saints Royal Garrison Church Alde...
English: All Saints Royal Garrison Church Aldershot England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

"Padre Francis Symonds is Crane's first choice. As the Senior Chaplain of the Royal Garrison Church, he is assisted by two other chaplains and between them they cover the large garrison and surrounding barracks. Crane finds him in the officer's mess, just finishing lunch and they meet in an empty conference room. Patre Symonds has the type of soft-rounded features that
means it is hard to accurately guess his age. Crane puts him in his mid-30s. He is dressed casually, wearing
uniform trousers and a black clerical shirt with a dog collar. Simply furnished, the room has a circular
meeting table and six chairs and Crane and the Padre take seats opposite each other. Crane explains that there has been a murder/suicide on the garrison, perpetrated by Lance Corporal Crooks and that Crane is in charge of the investigation. At first the Chaplain is reluctant to comment on the matter, citing no knowledge of Lance Corporal Crooks as he can remember, no one of Crooks' name or description has ever approached him for help
or advice. However, Crane presses the mild-mannered,
courteous Chaplain, wanting to know about local
churches in the Aldershot area...
"I found these pamphlets in Lance Corporal Crooks'
bedroom," he explains and then leans back in his
chair. "I wondered what you knew about this church
and their methods."
"Ahhh..." says the Chaplain after looking at the papers
for a few moments and then adopting a reflective position
with his chin resting on clasped hands. "Ahhh, sir?"
"Yes, Well, this is a little delicate."
"Let me spell this out for you Padre. There is nothing
delicate about a murder and suicide by one of our lads.
Not the crime and not the investigation that follows.
I need answers and I need them now. So let's forget
sensibilities and diplomacy and tell me about this
"Really, Sergeant Major, there's no need for that kind
of attitude," rebukes the Padre, standing and folding
his arms.
"Really, Patre, there is." Crane refuses to be bullied,
even by a superior officer. "I've been tasked by Colonel
Pearson to find out what happened to one of his boys and
I intend to follow orders. I'm sure he doesn't want to
hear that you were unwilling to assist in that
"After a moment's reflection, the Padre sits down again
and begins to talk. "If I may be frank." 
"Resisting a more sarcastic reply, Crane inclines his
head and says, "Please do, Padre."
"The Church of Jesus is King in Aldershot has concerned me a little I must admit. Their methods are,
well, a trifle over enthusiastic, when it comes to
persuading people to join their church...Ensnare you
with invisible threads as it were..."

Steps to Heaven:
A Sgt Major Crane

By Wendy Cartmell

I'm not quite sure why, but Steps to Heaven reminded me of a Columbo cop tale--maybe because of the main character, who is brash, persistent, hard-punching and hard-hitting in terms of personality. The kind of guy that makes a great cop, but not necessarily a nice human being. Fortunately, he has some friends who will point out this latter fault from time to time. Since the author has personally been a wife and occupant of Army facilities and living, the novel allows readers to learn especially about the difficulties as a service wife.

From my perspective, since I grab a police procedure to see if I can solve the crime along with the officer, his personality is somewhat secondary to his cop characteristics. I liked him and felt comfortable seeing him take command and shoot out orders fast and steadily...

In fact, I'd say I've had a couple of bosses like him. A couple I didn't personally like, but that's ok if you can respect them, right? The ones you can't respect aren't worth talking about...LOL

The setting for the novel is the Aldershot Garrison where Sgt Major Crane is an officer in special investigations. So he was immediately called when an apparent murder/suicide happened.

A soldier who had just come back from Afghanistan had killed his wife, and then, while holding his son close in his arms, he had slit the boy's throat and then his own.

From a procedural standpoint, it soon became clear that the soldier had done it... Sgt Crane's boss wanted to close the case. But Crane asked him whether he didn't want to know why... Crane, obviously, could not rest
until he did!

And so he was authorized to continue the investigation exploring what might have occurred on his last stay in
Afghanistan, as well as his personal and family life.

And then another murder/suicide occurred... And another...

And Crane found himself working with the Aldershot police as well as the police from two other towns. All would have thought the cases could be routinely closed until Crane forced them to see that something had to be "causing" these men to choose to do what they had.

Slowly, as a result of Crane's having found some religious pamphlets in Crooks' home that had not been noticed, he began to put together the idea that what was happening to these men had started after they were back home, and, possibly, within a church or some type of religious cult leader's influence...

Fortunately, Sgt Major Crane had no clue of who was behind this--so I didn't feel bad in not figuring it out. LOL But the author certainly had me fully involved in the "why" of these incidents and "how" it was happening. The surprise ending totally caught me off guard! I especially enjoyed the character of Padre Symonds. Once he realized what was happening, he began to research and working with Crane as closely as possible, actually getting caught up too far with the investigation? Still, I think he realized that his position required that he help in any way possible...and he did!

This debut novel is first in a series with the latest, third book just out! If you're into police procedural, I highly recommend you check out when the police have to work with the army investigators! Enjoyed it!


About the Author   Wendy Cartmell is a former teacher, PR manager and editor of a large corporate newspaper, who has always written either for her work or stories for her children. Her books for children include the Professor Letters series and Wilhelmina the Witch. She turned her hand to crime writing recently, resulting in a new crime series featuring Sgt Major Crane of the Special Investigations Branch, drawing on her husband's 22 years service in the British Army.

The first book in the series Steps to Heaven and the second 40 Days 40 Nights are both out now. The third, as yet untitled is, as they say, work in progress. “She is on a par with the literary giants of this genre.” Zen Cherry “This woman can write!" David Anderson, Author.

Visit her Author Page on Amazon: http:// Wendy-Cartmell/ e/ B005V1YISI/ http:// Wendy-Cartmell/ e/ B005V1YISI/   If you enjoyed Steps to Heaven why not try the sequel 40 Days 40 Nights? Available at Amazon: http:// Nights-Major-Crane-Novels-ebook/ dp/ B006O5Q77A/ http:// Nights-Major-Crane-Novels-ebook/ dp/ B006O5Q77A/

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