In Gareth L. Powell's Ragged Alice a detective in a small Welsh town can literally see the evil in people's souls. Orphaned at an early age, DCI Holly Craig grew up in the small Welsh coastal town of Pontyrhudd. Now, fifteen years later, she’s back in her old hometown to investigate what seems at first to be a simple hit-and-run, but which soon escalates into something far deadlier and unexpectedly personal―something that will take all of her peculiar talents to solve.
Powell offers us some really good character work in Ragged Alice ... This is a compelling novella. Powell keeps the murder investigation both tense and grounded in the day-to-day details of regular policework. The supernatural is never fully explained, but its involvement is emotionally integral to both the story and its eventual satisfying denouement. (I especially liked the novella’s final scene. That worked damn well.)
Ragged Alice packs so much story into its short length that it wouldn’t have been unwelcome to add a few thousand more words to let it breathe a little. As it now stands, the killings come so close together that it breaks our willing suspension of disbelief, because the regional office doesn’t seem too upset about the speed and quantity of them. A few thousand more words would have fleshed out Craig, her partner, and a few of the denizens of this moody little town in satisfying ways. While the story as it stands is interesting enough, Powell is welcome to stick around for a while to tells us more about it.
Powell...continues to stretch his genre muscles while showing the same care for characterization and storytelling in this supernatural police procedural ... Powell is a rising star in sf and this novella is a gem.