I read Tread Softly by JJ Marsh while on holiday in Provence, and although the book is set in Spain rather than France, the theme of wine and food suited my mood perfectly. This was my first introduction to Beatrice Stubbs, a police detective from the Metropolitan Police, who in Tread Softly is on a sabbatical in Northern Spain, with a plan to sample the regions fine wine and foods.
Beatrice's holiday in Spain is interrupted when an old acquaintance, the young and strikingly beautiful investigate reporter, Ana, asks for her help to track down a missing colleague. Before she can stop herself, Beatrice is knee-deep in intrigue and corruption, and getting into trouble not only with the police in Spain but also with her bosses back in London.
Tread Softly is a brilliantly executed police drama. The start is quite violent, and I was a little afraid there’d be more scenes like that (The Englishman says I can't watch anyone break as much as a fingernail in police drams on the telly). But I needn’t have worried, because although there are more scenes like the first one, the violence is never gratuitous, or too gory. The character of Beatrice, an older woman with some stress-induced mental health issues, is very well drawn. The reader is often made to feel very worried about Beatrice, and at the same time in awe of her persistent, and intelligent, pursuit of justice.
The story is skilfully paced, with lovely, atmospheric descriptions of the Spanish town of Vitoria, as well as the food and wine Beatrice manages to consume in spite of the intensity of her investigations. After reading Tread Softly, I downloaded the other two detective novels by JJ Marsh, featuring Beatrice Stubbs. I can’t wait to devour them in the same quick manner as I did Tread Softly.
Tread Softly by JJ Marsh
is published by Triskele Books
£2.68 Kindle version