Review: Feather and Claw by Susan Handley

Feather and Claw by Susan Handley: A crime novel set in Cyprus
Feather and Claw by Susan Handley

What happens when the ‘hunters become the hunted’? But who are they?

Yanni’s in the old town has been hit, but by what? This is the call received in the early hours of the morning but what does that mean for the people of the town? Who are the individuals speaking on the phone and how does this fit into the tragic events that are about to unfold?

Amy and Cat are on holiday in Cyprus and the predicted temperature guide that is always found at the front of the travel brochure has most definitely lied. Complaining about the May heat, it seems quite contradictory that the friends then continue to lie there, baking themselves silly like only the Brits do when abroad.

Amy sees this as a holiday for her friend to have some fun after a recently bitter break-up whereas Cat is dreaming more about a relaxing week in the sun sightseeing. There is just one big problem with this.  It seems that while Amy likes the idea of helping her friend heal after a torturous couple of months, all she really wants to do is recline on a sunbed reading, whereas Cat constantly fidgets, complaining that she wants to see more of the island than simply the view of their hotel pool.

Will that change, however, after the girls have spent their first evening chatting with Ethan Barrett, the gorgeous Californian sat next to Cat at the hotel’s gala-night.  Even this seems to cause tension between the two friends because Amy is sat next to the ‘boring’ life-sapping bird-watchers.

Is Ethan the person the girls believe him to be though? He mentions that he is in the export trade – artisan, European foods by all accounts, but is that all he trades in? My suspicious mind is challenged when his business partner, Tony Vostanis, dies suddenly at the end of the gala-night.  It also doesn’t help that the day after his death, his family and friends seem to be acting as if nothing untoward has happened, in fact, they appear far more relaxed than the evening before.

All doubt, however, is lost when two policemen appear at the hotel to speak to Mrs Vostanis, with one of the coppers, Glafcos, being a friend of Cat, who just so happens to be a member of the serious crime squad.

“‘You’re like that Murder She Wrote character, Jessica someone,’ Alex said… ‘Wherever she went someone would wind up dead.'”

Cat is meant to be on holiday relaxing after recently coming face to face with an extremely dangerous criminal, there is just one problem with that; she doesn’t know how to unwind which means even if there isn’t a murder case to solve she is trying to turn it into something, becoming a bit of an uncover detective rather than enjoying the Cypriot sun. It would seem her boss is right; she is unable to switch off.

“She recalled Alex’s comments as he dropped her off at Gatwick. At the time she thought he was over-exaggerating her tendency to use work to avoid dealing with things. On reflection perhaps he was right.”

Perhaps the other reason for her inability to enjoy her holiday is the fact that her friend seems more interested in her book or the stunning Ethan rather than spending time with Cat doing all the things they had planned to do when they initially booked. Although with Amy blissfully loved up it does give Cat the opportunity to spend more time with other holidaymakers, especially single dad Phil.

Phil says he works in security, but what sort of security he fails to elaborate on. Can Cat trust him or is he somehow linked to what is currently happening in and around Paphos?

Tragedy then strikes again when another holidaymaker’s body washing up on the shoreline in front of the hotel, and this time it is someone that Cat knows.  But what happened? Why is there a naked body floating on the surf? 

After trying to get answers from the Cypriot police with little success, Cat turns very Jessica Fletcher and decides to take matters into her own hands, with the deaths of now two people completely overshadowing her holiday.  She can no longer concentrate on anything but resolving her suspicions and hopefully catching a murderer in their tracks.  If in fact, these two individuals have been murdered, however, she needs cold, hard facts to be believed, and that is exactly what she intends to find regardless of what it costs and flippant about her own safety.

Will she succeed? Only time will tell.

Feather and Claw by Susan Handley is a crime novel set in Cyrpus.

Final Thoughts on Feather and Claw

Feather and Claw is a brilliantly written crime novel full of twists and turns, some of which you can predict while others hit you full in the face and you have to question how you didn’t see them coming. 

Susan Handley has created a narrative you simply cannot put down.  I thought I could predict what was going to be uncovered as I rushed through the pages only to be completely disappointed in my own armchair sleuthing.  Turns out, I really wouldn’t make a very good detective.  I only hope that Susan continues to write this series. It would be a real shame not to read more about DC Cat McKenzie in the future.

Just in case you were wondering, Feathers and Claws in the second book in the series, A Confusion of Crows is the first DC Cat McKenzie novel.

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