Book Review – TALKING TO THE DEAD by Harry Bingham

Talking to the Dead Synopsis

Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham

A mesmerizing and thrilling novel—perfect for fans of Tana French and Stieg Larsson—that introduces a modern, unforgettable rookie cop whose past is as fascinating and as deadly as the crimes she investigates.


At first, the murder scene appears sad, but not unusual: a young woman undone by drugs and prostitution, her six-year-old daughter dead alongside her. But then detectives find a strange piece of evidence in the squalid house: the platinum credit card of a very wealthy—and long dead—steel tycoon. What is a heroin-addicted hooker doing with the credit card of a well-known and powerful man who died months ago? This is the question that the most junior member of the investigative team, Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths, is assigned to answer.

But D.C. Griffiths is no ordinary cop. She’s earned a reputation at police headquarters in Cardiff, Wales, for being odd, for not picking up on social cues, for being a little overintense. And there’s that gap in her past, the two-year hiatus that everyone assumes was a breakdown. But Fiona is a crack investigator, quick and intuitive. She is immediately drawn to the crime scene, and to the tragic face of the six-year-old girl, who she is certain has something to tell her . . .  something that will break the case wide open.

Ignoring orders and protocol, Fiona begins to explore far beyond the rich man’s credit card and into the secrets of her seaside city. And when she uncovers another dead prostitute, Fiona knows that she’s only begun to scratch the surface of a dark world of crime and murder. But the deeper she digs, the more danger she risks — not just from criminals and killers but from her own past . . .  and the abyss that threatens to pull her back at any time. (Amazon)


I love a flawed heroine – don’t you? In Talking to the Dead Harry Bingham introduces to the world an exciting new female police detective. Fiona Griffiths has trauma in her past and inner demons she battles with on a daily basis. Her social ineptness combined with her maverick nature provides much opportunity for her to get herself into sticky situations. Add to this Fiona’s quirky mental agility, her straight forward, no nonsense filter through which she views the world, and her stinging sarcasm and you have very entertaining reading.

I find Jane a bit scary if truth be told – the sort of person who always manages to find outfits that are seasonable and fashionable, but also affordable and sensible, simultaneously professional and CID-ish yet at the same time gently calling attention to her gym-bunny physique. Plus, her hair is always immaculately blow-dried, plus she never gets food stains on things, plus she doesn’t make perfectly helpful witnesses cry for no reason. And I bet she can go for years at a time without knee-capping perverts.

Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham is the most original and engaging detective novel I have read since Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The  Dragon Tattoo Trilogy.

A critical reviewer might point out slight implausibility in one or two of the action sequences in the Talking to the Dead but I can easily forgive Harry Bingham for that – this novel would (sorry, will) make one hell of a good movie. I cannot explain precisely why without giving the game away, but I think the story crafted by Bingham is exceedingly clever.

The reader can engage with the book on so many levels. The  criminal activity that is being investigated is complex with several threads and many character dependencies. The interactions within Fiona’s police unit and their interactions with other units are interesting and explored in detail. The first person narration by the character that is the subject of the book’s character study will have you on the edge of your seat. She is certainly unpredictable, but does that necessarily make her unreliable?

Harry Bingham has packed an astounding amount of content into such a neat package – he even found time for some romance, but romance the way it plays out when Fiona is involved. Another point of difference for me was the respectful treatment of the violent and dramatic subject matter, and acknowledgement of there always being shadow where there is light.

Talking to the Dead is a book that perfectly balances entertainment with heart and authenticity.

I consumed this book via audio. Narrator Siriol Jenkins’ elocution is first class – crisp, clear and effortless to listen to. She does an excellent job portraying the character Fiona Griffiths and delivering her drier than dry humour – listen to an audio sample. I will be seeking out more of Siriol Jenkins’ work on the strength of this performance.

It is clear heroine Fiona Griffiths has come alive for author Harry Bingham and he has translated this superbly to the page. I recommend Talking to the Dead unreservedly and eagerly await the release of the next Fiona Griffiths novel.

BOOK RATING: The Story 5 / 5 ; The Writing 4.5 / 5

Have you read Talking to the Dead? Do you want to?

Join the discussion below.

BOOK DETAILS: Talking to the Dead (Audible); Talking to the Dead (Amazon); Talking to the Dead (Booktopia); Talking to the Dead (Kobobooks)

Genre: Audio, Crime-Detective, DramaHumourRomance, MysteryThriller

About the Author: Harry Bingham is the bestselling author of several books, fiction and non-fiction. His books have sold in the US, Japan, Germany and numerous other countries. Harry has been longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin International Literary Award. He has appeared at a number of literary festivals and written for most of the national newspapers in the UK.

Harry describes himself as: Forty-something. Married. British. Dogs. Living in Oxfordshire. Runs The Writers’ Workshop. Used to be a banker. Now a full-time writer. Likes rock-climbing, walking, swimming.

– Check out the website dedicated to Talking to the Dead and its heroine Fiona Griffiths called Sharing a head with Fiona. Here author Harry Bingham explains how the character came to be and his writing process.

Other reviews of Talking to the Dead:  New York Daily News, Kirkus Reviews, Milo’s Rambles, Petrona, OregonLive, Chaotic Compendiums, Crime Thriller Girl 

Other books by Harry Bingham: Lieutenant’s Lover, Glory Boys, Sons of Adam, This Little Britain, The Money Makers, Stuff Matters: Genius, Risk and the Secret of Capitalism, The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook Guide to Getting Published

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4 Comments on "Book Review – TALKING TO THE DEAD by Harry Bingham"

January 17, 2013

I like the sounds of this Jo, sounds just like my thing!


This one sounds pretty good to me; thanks for blogging about it.

January 16, 2013

Someone recommended a Harry Bingham novel to me years ago but I never actually got around to reading him. After the rave review I think I am going to have to check him out again.