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Burning Issue

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  • Burning Issue
  • ISBN: 9781845277505
  • Myfanwy Alexander
  • Publication March 2020
  • Format: Paperback, 198x128 mm, 380 pages

Heulwen Breeze-Evans, Plaid Cymru's candidate for the Assembly elections has been found dead in her Welshpool office, and Daf Davies finds himself in charge of the investigation...

This is the second of Myfanwy Alexanders Inspector Daf Dafis novels to be translated from the original Welsh into English, the first being Bloody Eisteddfod. Inspector Dafis is newly married to Gaenor, with whom he has a baby daughter, Mali, which sounds simple, except it isnt, because

Daf was previously married to Falmai, and Gaenor was married to John Jones, Neuadd, who is Falmais brother. Between them they have four teenage children. Dafs life, you could say, is complicated, but that is nothing compared to the complications that arise when the Plaid Cymru office in Welshpool is deliberately set on fire, and the charred body of Heulwen Breeze-Evans is discovered in the ruins. Arson and murder. Who could have done it? Almost anybody, it turns out, because Mrs Breeze-Evans could have won first prize as the most hated woman in Montgomeryshire.

As the investigation gets under way, Inspector Dafis uncovers levels of bad blood, bad faith, lies and intrigue that could keep Scotland Yard on the case for months. There is a strong political element: Heulwen was the Plaid candidate in the forthcoming election, having failed earlier to get adopted by the Conservatives. Not especially committed, then, you might think, and you would be right. She also declares herself to be gay after years of loveless marriage, but that might be a convenience of the moment, too. As her son Jac observes, The old bitch worshipped nothing but herself.

Apart from politics, sex is a ruling motif in the novel. In fact, Montgomeryshire appears to be a seething snake pit where anything goes, from switching wives to bondage to sadomasochism (and anything you can think of in between). Phil, Heulwens husband, is in love with Basia Bartoshyn, a Polish woman who lives with her brother and another Pole above the Plaid office; Rhys Bowen, Tory AM and meat processor, has a loveless marriage but a sexual appetite he satisfies so frequently that you wonder he has time and energy for politics. And that is only for starters.

The novel has a List of Characters, which is all to the good, because Burning Issue has almost as full a canvas as War and Peace. There is also a glossary of Welsh idioms and phrases which are sprinkled through the text, many of them from the local dialect. This is well done, serving to remind the reader that, for the most part, the characters are thinking and conversing in Welsh.

The plot keeps you turning the pages, the character of Daf Dafis is engaging, and the final scene in Bowens meat-processing plant where Daf comes face-to-face with Heulwens killer is unexpected in more ways than one. But to tell you who, why, and what would be a spoiler, and Im not going to do that. John Barnie