Way back at the beginning of 2015, I reviewed a crime book, The Art of the Imperfect. The author, Kate Evans, was unknown to me, but she made a huge impression. In my review, I recalled the first time I’d come across Hilary Mantel (in 1985 with her book, Every Day is Mother’s Day. I talked about the huge impression that book had made on me, and how I’d been a Mantel follower ever since. I said, “Thirty years ago, I recognised Hilary Mantel as a name to watch. Today I give you Kate Evans as another.”
Well, it’s been a while, but now Kate Evans has proved me right. This year, Constable brought out her new crime book, A Wake of Crows. It’s been worth the wait. I often read reviews saying that a book contains many layers and when I read the book itself I usually find myself wondering what the reviewer meant. But A Wake of Crows is a book that reveals itself on many levels. It’s a straightforward police procedural. It’s a study of a complicated life that begins in East Germany when it’s still a Communist state and its inhabitants are sorely oppressed and ends, of all places, in Scarborough in North Yorkshire. And it’s a great many other things, too, between those extremes.
Kate Evans has the one gift without which writers cannot succeed. From the moment you start reading her book, you’re in the story, you want to know what happens, and you can’t stop reading until you do. The characters are sometimes odd, but they are always real, believable and multi-faceted. The same goes for the plot with its many turns and its slow unveiling of the depths of the story. Six years ago, I called Kate Evans a name to watch. I was right. Whatever else you do between now and Christmas, read this book.