Christopher Lassiter’s body was found inside his locked apartment. There were no wounds on his body, no signs of violence – but daubed in blood on the wall was a single word. The word Rache. Sounds like a case for Sherlock Holmes – hang on, that sounds exactly like a case for Sherlock Holmes. But in a London where memories and belief are enough to bring things to life, somebody has murdered the ghost of Sherlock Holmes.
A case that is exactly one in the remit of the four officers known as the Shadow Police. But they’re not exactly at their best. One is traumatised after discovering the truth about hell, one has lost any chance of future happiness (literally), one is desperately trying to make up for a terrible betrayal and one has his hands full trying to keep the team together. But as more murders happen, following those from the works of Doyle, the team is going to have to pull together to thwart the most devious killer that they have ever encountered – and the force behind them…
This is the third of the Shadow Police novels. I loved London Falling but was a little less convinced with The Severed Streets. The main plot was a little obvious, in particular the identity of the villain, and the remainder was mostly set-up for the series. Here we get the reverse – some of the set-up is paid off here very effectively and the mystery this time – well, it’s damn clever. Fooled me completely. It’s rare that I feel completely wrong-footed by a mystery, but that’s exactly what happened here.
The notion of this series – that there is a dark version of London that only those with the Sight can see, and that it needs policing – is an original one. Well, there are similarities on a base level to Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers Of London series – must take another look at those – but really, these series are totally different. This is a dark, horror-story type London, full of sinister individuals and dark plans and as the third book closes, we’re starting to see those plans become coherent.
This is a great read – although I worry a little about people reading it without the first two books – and a complex, rewarding tale. And, as I said, at least one genuine surprise that caught me off-guard. Actually, it was two, in very close proximity. You’ll see what I mean if you read it.
So, a dark, exciting thriller, that, while probably not to everyone’s taste, is well worth a try. As I said, take a look at London Falling first off all – my Book of the Month for May 2014 – and then read the next two. It helps to read them in quick succession – I found that the two year gap for me between books 1 and 2 meant that I forgot some bits and pieces – but don’t let that put you off. This one is a great read and Highly Recommended.