Thu 21 April 2011, The Times

The Redeemed by M. R. Hall

By Marcel Berlins
In real life there would have been no way that Jenny Cooper, the coroner of Severn Vale, could have kept her job. As M. R. Hall’s fictional heroine, though, she has made it into her third breathlessly enjoyable novel. She’s stubborn, insubordinate, leads a chaotic life and is prone to exceed her legal powers. She’s mentally and emotionally unstable, under psychiatric care, and consumes many pills. Fortunately she is also obsessed with seeing that, as coroner, she does justice to the dead — in effect the clients of her job — and their loved ones left behind. In The Redeemed she is not satisfied that a man whose body is found with a sign of the cross slashed on his torso had committed suicide. A priest attempts to persuade her that a man convicted of killing a porn star-turned-campaigner for decency is innocent. The two deaths, and others that follow, are linked to a local church. Cooper does her utmost to discover the truth, against the wishes of the Establishment.
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