Five Ways To Kill A Man by Alex Gray

Five WaysIn Glasgow, a dangerous person is experimenting with death. In particular, ways to kill people. Violence, drowning, poison… until they are ready to kill who they want to kill, rather than random people. And then the death count begins to rise…

DCI Lorimer has been temporarily promoted and assigned to review a recent case that had oversights in the investigation – in part due to the senior officer having to care for his dying wife at the same time. The death of a couple in a house fire seems open and shut and the remainder of the investigating team resent Lorimer’s presence – but they are investigating their own case, that of a number of old women possibly murdered in their homes. Both cases seemed to be linked to a phantom cyclist. Lorimer has his own concerns – his mother in law has had a serious stroke. But he has no idea how close to home things are going to become…

Alex Gray has published ten novels in the Lorimer series, the most recent being The Swedish Girl. I read one, Pitch Black, in my pre-blog days – yes, I can remember back that far – and it was decent enough. A nice little mystery and a good read, so, after enjoying Shatter The Bones recently, I thought this would be another slice of Tartan Noir to sink my teeth into. Why this one? It was available for 99p on Kindle. Yeah, I’m cheap.

Bit of a game of two halves, this one. The opening section, in particular, is chilling as our killer narrates their early experiments. The prose is good and the sections concerning the mother-in-law’s stroke and the aftermath are extremely moving. The insight into the lives of Lorimer and his wife, and their closest friends, a married psychologist and pathologist – very handy, are well drawn and not intrusive on to the main plot.

But…

… the main plot is lacking for a number of reasons. I’m still bemused as to why the killer continued to kill the old women in the houses – apart from the obvious nutter excuse. I’m baffled as to their actions at the end of the book – apart from the obvious nutter excuse. I’m perplexed as to how the killer is identified – the psychologist spots them (so the nutter-doctor excuse) but doesn’t indicate really explain how apart from hand-wavy psychobabble. And the attempted misdirection simply didn’t work – for book seven in a series, it seemed awfully clumsy.

On a personal note, I really didn’t like how it ended. I’m supposed to be upset by the events in the final chapters, but it just seemed forced – and, after the build-up, a bit of a cop-out for later books.

So judge for yourself if you think you’d like it – it is well-written but the plot won’t enthral my whodunit-seeking reader, which is why I can’t really recommend it. I might give the series another go in the future – every series has it’s weak entry, but it won’t be for a while.

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