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review 2015-01-02 15:27
Stalemate - Alan Hamilton

Author: Alan Hamilton

Published: July 2014 by Silverwood Books

Category: Crime/Mystery/Suspense, Historical


Summer 1930 and Walter Bruce is told he has a terminal disease. With nursing care and an easier job he could have five more years. With neither he may not see out the year. But he’s got a wife to keep – one too selfish and idle to be his nurse.

This novel is woven intricately around facts based on an actual, seemingly senseless and violent unsolved murder case from the 1930’s. Walter Bruce is an insurance salesman in a loveless marriage. He is diagnosed with a terminal illness and at the same time acquires evidence his wife has not only deceived him about her past all the years he’s known her, but has also been unfaithful. He formulates a plan to allow him to live out his remaining years in comfort, with the nursing and care he knows will not be forthcoming from his wife. There is no turning back. Bruce’s chess player’s mind devises the details of a plan and as that plan slowly unravels he must accept the terrible consequences of his actions.


The main protagonist is very difficult to like, yet at the same time, given his lifestyle and home life, there is a small amount of pity mixed in with the aversion. There are many restrictions in the between-the-wars world of lower to middle class Liverpool, but to dispassionately plot his wife’s murder and involve two other, equally distasteful characters, shows quite a calculating and cold nature. 

The ability to plan and deliberately kill someone was not an accomplishment you could learn, like chess or the violin. When the intended victim was close to you, someone you lived with, it called for a hardness of heart, insensitivity to pity, indifference to suffering and denial of the sanctity of human life. You might have the idea but if you didn’t have these qualities you’d never progress beyond that. The point was though, he knew he did have them; had always had them. 

The courtroom scenes are described in detail and, although at times I was overwhelmed with the specifics and technicalities, I appreciate the painstaking research and work that has gone into, not only this aspect, but the whole. Bruce’s feelings throughout are defined so vividly I almost felt I was the one in court. How very frightening to be in that position, especially knowing the evidence was being manipulated. Bruce thought he had orchestrated the ‘perfect murder’ and was totally unprepared for the final verdict, actually believing himself innocent of the specific charge of murder.


This fictional reconstruction of a classic, unsolved mystery is revised to reflect the possible scenario of Bruce plotting his wife’s murder and written with much of the original events and evidence, as the author states in his note at the end of the book…..’Much in the preceding pages follows the details of that case very closely, to the point that some of the dialogue is lifted directly from what was reported as having been said during the events, and, in particular from the then Liverpool City Police Force, and transcripts of the committal, trial and appeal court proceedings in the real Wallace case.’


As in the original case, there seems to all outside intents and purposes, no motive for the crime and only circumstantial evidence against the accused. As for the real-life murder, only William Herbert Wallace would be able to tell the truth of what happened in Anfield, Liverpool in 1931.


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review 2008-01-01 00:00
Stalemate - Iris Johansen This is just the worst Eve Duncan novel. Eve came out looking strong but slightly out of character (especially the way that her character was starting to become written)but Joe seemed like even more of an overprotective over-bearing fool. I couldn't suspend my disbelief of the annoying characters to even bother caring whether Eve and Montalvo got together until about half-way and then I figured it would serve Joe right. Don't get me wrong, I like Joe but he makes a good point when he mentions in the beginning of the novel that his relationship with Eve is getting a bit strained. They need to grow up and I hate to say it, I'm a little tired of the Bonnie motivator. She should never forget her child but even Bonnie has asked to be let go. It's time to start the healing process or at least find the killer. I can't bother to read the next one, so I guess I'll never know either.

Unfortunately, this book just didn't do it for me. I liked Jane in the last two novels though. Very believable and the stories were entertaining. I'd be interested in more about her and Trevor. That is the best thing that I can take from the Eve Duncan series.

Alas, it was a good run while it lasted but I believe this is my last Eve Duncan novel.
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review 2007-10-01 00:00
Stalemate - Iris Johansen Another great book in the Eve Duncan series!
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review 2007-01-30 00:00
Stalemate - Iris Johansen Montalvo is a new character. I'm so mixed up. Do I like Montalvo or Joe? What is Eve doing?!? Why is she leaning towards Montalvo? Why am I leaning towards Montalvo? Ms. Johansen does an excellent job of generating mixed feelings for me. I can understand why Montalvo is so appealing. Joe kind of pales in comparison. I feel bad for Joe though. While the story is interesting about Montalvo and his war against another drug lord, I was more captivated by Montalvo and Eve's relationship developing. I'm not sure I like it. Eve is once again teased about finding her daughter's killer. I'm starting to be tired of this.
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