DS Jessica Daniel, back at work following the traumas at the end of Locked In, is called to the scene of a murder. The victim is a local small-time villain – nothing special there. But when the DNA evidence comes in, it rather handily points directly to the murderer – a known career criminal. The only slight problem – he’s been in a maximum security for the past few years, and is still there. But how on earth can the DNA evidence be faked?
WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!
If you decide to read Vigilante, then I highly recommend that you read Locked In first. Because the author spoils the ending, and the murderer, of that book several times in the opening sections of this book. I tweeted Kerry Wilkinson to ask why he made this choice, as it didn’t seem necessary to me, but unfortunately, he couldn’t remember! But anyway, if you want to read this, read the first one first. But would you want to read either of them?
Oh,another warning. Don’t be put off by the title – it’s not one of those grim and gritty “thrillers”. It’s rather fascinating what the author is trying to do here. By combining believable characters with genuinely bizarre situations, what you get is a, for want of a better word, mash-up between a Golden Age detective story and a modern day police procedural. It’s a great idea to put characters into a puzzle without a Gideon Fell-type on the sidelines to help them out, although I’m not sure that even Dr Fell would have got to the solution any quicker that Jessica in this case.
If you’ve been following my twitter feed (@puzzledoctor) then you’ll know this is a real page turner. I literally couldn’t put it down, sneaking a few extra pages at every tea and lunch break until it was finished. For a large portion of the book, I had no idea where the plot was going, although one latish red herring seemed a little obvious, although it was necessary to send Jessica down a darker path than she might otherwise have gone. Kerry Wilkinson told me after the first review, when I praised the character for not being riddled with past trauma, that this was so that he, and the readers, could experience Jessica’s ups and downs first hand, and this is certainly the case here. As I said, I thought that this strand was a little too obvious, but given Jessica’s emotional state, it was completely understandable.
And here’s the oddest bit about the book. The solution to the impossibility of the DNA evidence is not the most satisfying that I’ve ever read despite being the one that, if you put all of the possibilities on the table, actually makes the most sense. It does involve, however, something that is extremely unlikely happening. And normally, in a different book, this would have annoyed me no end. But it didn’t.
Only two books in, and I’m really enjoying this series, simply because they are great reads. Engaging characters, ambitious plots, a distinct lack of navel-gazing from the lead character’s point of view… there’s even a genuine clue, although it does involve the murderer being a bit of an idiot. Roll on book three… but there’ll be trouble if that text at the end isn’t a positive one!