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Posts Tagged ‘police’

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The first thing anyone who is considering reading this book needs to know is that it’s very long. The second thing is that it is very disturbing and takes the reader to some very dark places, covering subjects such as paedophilia, mutilation, and violence against women and children.

The story begins with young boys in Sweden being found mutilated and mummified. Detective Chief Inspector Jeanette Kihlberg is put in charge of the case and this leads her to seek out psychologist Sofia Zetterlund, in an attempt to find out who might be committing such crimes. It is impossible to say more without giving away some huge spoilers, so I will leave the premise there.

As for my own thoughts on the book, they are somewhat mixed. It started off extremely well (a note about the translation by Neil Smith – this was excellent; I often find translations clunky and off-putting, but this one was certainly very well done). The first couple of hundred of pages were gripping and kept me reading with great interest. However, after about a third of the way in, it started to get too long and too convoluted. The storyline jumps forward and backward, and there is a seemingly endless stream of characters, at least one of whom is a very unreliable narrator. It was sometimes hard to keep who was who clear in my mind and the only character I really felt on firm footing with was Jeanette herself, and her colleague Jens Hurtig. Jens was actually my favourite character throughout the whole story and the only one to whom I felt any sympathy.

Towards the end of the book I found myself just wanting to get finished with it. The dark subject matter was dragging me down and the over complicated plot line was tiresome. I think there was a lot that was really well done about this book, but some editing to rein it in would have been beneficial.

Other reviews have been mixed, so if Scandi-noir is your thing, you might enjoy it. However, for me personally, I think I’ll give this genre a  miss from now on.

 

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I listened to this audiobook, narrated by Tom Kotcher, over the course of several days. it is billed as the first in the Karen Pirie series, but Officer Pirie is very much on the periphery of this story (I suspect it was to ‘test the waters’ before writing a series based around a particular character).

It’s a book of two halves; the first half is set in 1978, when four students – who are known by their nicknames, Ziggy, Gilly, Weird and Mondo – in St Andrews stable across the body of a young woman named Rosie Duff, who is vaguely known to them. She has been attacked and left for dead. The police launch an investigation which fails to find the killer, but suspicion falls upon the four lads, and follows them around for the rest of their time at the university.

25 years later, the police reopen the cold case, but things take a strange turn when two of the former students are murdered and the remaining two decide that someone is taking revenge on them for the murder of Rosie. With the police not seeming to get anywhere, the two men decide to do some sleuthing of their own.

This is the first Val McDermid book I have ever read or listened to, and I have to say that I did enjoy it. Tom Kotcher did a good job narrating, with the exception of his American accent, which was pretty atrocious. Fortunately there are only a couple of American characters and neither of them feature very heavily, so that was not really an issue.

McDermid describes the tension and atmosphere extremely well, and I did feel that the four young men were all very distinctive; their relationships with each other were also well portrayed and formed a large part of the story. As for the mystery itself – I did actually figure out who the killer was when I was about a third of the way through, but nonetheless I still liked listening to the novel.

Based on this book, I would definitely try more by this author.

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Tom Riley plays DI Will Wagstaffe, the officer in charge of an investigation into a brutal murder and a number of brutal assaults in London. It doesn’t take long before Will and his team realise that suspected paedophiles are being targeted, and the race is on to find out who is exacting their own vigilante justice. Meanwhile Will himself is haunted by his own demons, as he struggles to cope with the murder of his own parents several years earlier.

This tv film was a one off, although it almost feels like the pilot for a series; if it was made into a series, I would certainly watch it. I thought Tom Riley was excellent in the main role – both believable as a police officer and also in his personal life as he tried to come to terms with the fact that he would soon have lived longer since his parents’ murder that he had lived before the horrific event that changed his life for good. I also thought that his loving but tense relationship with his sister Juliette (Charlotte Riley, no relation) was very well portrayed. Both siblings have been affected in different ways by the family tragedy and although they clearly love each other, they sometimes struggle to understand each other.

The crime aspect of the story was very well done, and I was kept guessing until the end. The only thing that spoiled it slightly for me was that the ending did seem a bit cliched and stretched the boundaries of belief somewhat. Despite this though, overall the film was well acted and there were plenty of things to keep the viewer guessing.

I hope that this isn’t the last we have seen of Will Wagstaffe and his team – I will be looking out for more feature length tv films with these characters.

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Year of release: 2016

Director: Colin Teague

Writer: Chris Lang

Main cast: Tom Riley, Charlotte Riley, Edward Akrout, Tom Brooke, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Miranda Raison

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Set in Snow Hill, London, in 1936, this books tells the story of newspaper reporter Johnny Steadman, who gets an anonymous tip-off that a policeman at Snow Hill Station has been killed. However, when he asks other police officers about it – including his best friend PC Matt Turner – nobody will corroborate the story, and Johnny is told to leave well alone.

Wanting to get to the truth of the matter, he keeps digging and the discovery of a gruesome murder scene makes him only more determined. But soon it becomes apparent that there is a web of corruption being spun to cover up a number of horrific violations, and Johnny ends up fighting not only for his own life, but also to save the lives of those closest to him…

My thoughts

This book was certainly not what I was expecting. What I had thought it would be was a psychological thriller with a scrappy but good-hearted protagonist. I was half-right…Johnny did make for a fairly likeable main character. He is certainly the most well drawn character of the plot – the rest are drawn with fairly broad strokes and more than a little stereotyping.

The story itself was considerably more gruesome than I had expected. The murder scene which Johnny stumbles upon as described above, was particularly unpleasant, and the plot revolves heavily around male sexual assault and violation (no spoilers here; this part is made apparent fairly early on) and subsequent cover-up.

However, for all that the story flowed pretty well and I found myself reading large chunks at a time.

Overall, I would have liked a bit more characterisation – I never felt that we got to know Matt’s wife Lizzie, or Johnny’s colleague Bill as well as we could have done and it might have drawn me in a bit more if I had been able to invest more in the characters. Nonetheless, based on this book I would probably try more by this author.

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Psychologist Megan Rhys has been called in to assist the Police with the investigation into the deaths of two prostitutes.  However, the Police seem to determined to take the investigation along their own way, despite Megan’s belief that they are looking in the wrong places.  Something is wrong with the information the Police are giving her, and she needs to find out why.  Meantime, a friend of Megan’s is receiving anonymous and frightening letters, and Megan starts to wonder if this is connected to the murdered prostitutes.  Her investigations lead her into dark places, physically and psychologically, and she could be heading into danger…

I’m in two minds about this book.  It’s the first in a series featuring Megan Rhys, and I certainly think she was a great character, especially for a series of novels, when she can be more fully fleshed out as the books progress.

The story moved on at a ready pace, but occasionally seemed in danger of becoming over complicated.  Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable read, with plenty of clues and red herrings thrown in during the narrative.  I liked the fact that I did not guess who the killer was until it was revealed at the end, and kept changing my mind about who it would turn out to be.

However, the subject of the story seemed distasteful at times; I’m not a prude, but I did feel that the book was something that I couldn’t really enjoy.  In a way this is perhaps a compliment – the book was supposed to lead the reader to some unpleasant scenarios, and it certainly did so.

I did feel that the plot was occasionally a bit too ‘busy’, with too many things happening, and not all of them necessary.  However, overall the central character was enough to keep me reading, and I would consider reading more book in this series.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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