Top positive review
18 people found this helpful
Significant addition to the Kate Daniels series
on 12 April 2013
`Deadly Deceit' is the third book in Mari Hannah's DCI Kate Daniels series, and is the strongest - and darkest - by far.
The main action takes place over just five days in June 2010, against a background of a sticky summer in Newcastle's deprived West End. The story opens with DCI Daniels and DS Hank Gormley en route to a fatal arson in the West End. They are delayed by a truly horrific multi-vehicle accident on the A1, at which they assist. All is not what it seems at both incidents, and these two apparently unconnected events form the basis of this intricately-plotted thriller, which builds relentlessly to a nerve-shredding climax.
Readers of Hannah's previous books will know that she is a consummate story-teller, but she has surpassed herself with the ambitious complexities of `Deadly Deceit.' The narrative has depth and meticulous attention to detail, and many surprising twists to the plot, right to the very end. Police procedures are accurate and integrated into the story, without ever making it sound like an investigator's manual.
A really pleasing aspect of this story is the continued development of characters introduced in the earlier books. All of Kate's team of murder detectives is here, and their lives and careers develop believably. Two important women from Kate's personal life play a significant part in this book in revealing to us some of Kate's emotional turmoil. Mari Hannah has also created two new and vivid principal characters, who drive the plot of `Deadly Deceit.' To avoid spoilers I shall not name them, but they are superbly realised - careful and subtle layer-by-layer creations. One character does not, initially, attract empathy (I now know what a "Scotswood stare" is!) but Hannah gives us a fully rounded portrayal. The other character turns out to be the epitome of evil: a psychotic, dead-eyed killer beyond human reasoning. Formidable achievements.
Above all, though, it is Kate Daniels who is the beating heart of `Deadly Deceit', an even stronger presence than before. She is still driven, passionate about her job, very likeable, a defender of the victims of crime and personally stricken even when not responsible for bad outcomes. And she can be exasperating, managing to sabotage her chance of personal happiness because the job always comes first. In a welcome development, Hannah spells out Kate's fear of being open about her sexuality, convinced that it would ruin her chances of promotion or, indeed, continuing at all in the police. Her ex-lover, Jo Soulsby, protested: "I'm not living my life as your secret!" Kate is a conflicted character, but one who elicits respect and affection. As someone usually to be found on the wrong side of the law said of her: "...Daniels was a top bird under all that authority."
The nature of the crimes committed gives `Deadly Deceit' a much darker feel than Hannah's previous books and the narrative demonstrates that deceit comes in many guises, both as criminal acts and also personally, when living a lie and not being true to yourself.
`Deadly Deceit' represents a major step change for this author. While retaining all her story-telling skills, there is a new authority, warmth and sureness of touch in her writing. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, and the pleasure that Mari Hannah's writing gives me, makes me all the more impatient for the publication of `Monument to Murder', the fourth in the series, due in April 2014.