Manchester. DCI Kate Simms has finally been given the chance to lead a major investigation – there has been a spike in the deaths of drug addicts and now that a celebrity has joined them, pressure is on to find the supplier of the lethal drug. But when a girl turns up dead, horribly brutalised, it seems there is something much darker going on.
Simms’ career stalled five years ago when she broke the rules – she gave the forensic scientist Nick Fennimore access to the case of his own murdered wife and missing daughter. So it probably isn’t the most politic move to turn to Fennimore for help ahead of her own team. But it seems that everyone is lying to Kate in one way or another. But can she get to the truth before a brutal serial killer can strike again?
The second book in my investigation of “The Murder Squad” after “Killing The Beasts“. Actually, let’s call it the third – I’ll count “Desperate Measures” in case I don’t have time to look at another of Cath Staincliffe’s books. A D Garrett is actually an amalgam of Margaret Murphy (writer and Murder Squad member) and Professor Dave Barclay, world-renowned forensics expert. You can tell – this is one of the most technical thrillers that I’ve read in a long time, if at all.
Now, I consider myself smarter that the average bear, and I loved the science in the book – in particular the accurate description early on of a hypothesis test – A-level Maths students take note. I wonder how the man in the street – someone who wasn’t a science buff – would find those sections, which are a reasonable chunk of the book. No idea, but as I said, I enjoyed them.
The story is a complex one, and may not be to everyone’s tastes. It’s pretty grim at times – the killer is doing more than just killing girls, he’s beating and scarring them – but this is a very satisfying read as well. The plot draws together into a cohesive whole, something I honestly thought wasn’t coming. I’d probably describe this as a thriller rather than a mystery, although at the end of the day, it’s also a whodunit. It’s also (I presume) one of the more accurate police procedurals given the emphasis on finding proof for any claims being made.
Where it fell down a little for me (apart from the nagging question as to why it’s a “DCI Kate Simms” book rather than a “Simms & Fennimore” book) was the unanswered questions about the personal relationships here. What was the relationship between Simms and Fennimore when his wife vanished? There’s an issue raised early on that seems to hint that her daughter might also be Fennimore’s – there’s an emphasis on the last time they saw each other and the girl’s age – that isn’t mentioned in the second half of the book, for example. I realise things are being held back for the later books in the series – books that I’ll definitely be reading – but a bit too much was held back for my tastes.
But nonetheless, it’s an great read – like any good thriller, the pace accelerates until it reaches a thrilling climax, and it’s left me wanting to read the next in the series. Job done. So, of course, it’s Highly Recommended.