- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: HQ; First edition edition (11 Jan. 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 000818223X
- ISBN-13: 978-0008182236
- Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.3 x 24 cm
- Average Customer Review: 26 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 432,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Head Case (A Tom Mondrian Story) Hardcover – 11 Jan 2018
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Praise for Head Case:
‘Absolutely loved Head Case. Couldn’t put it down. Tragic, funny and frightening. Ross Armstrong has written another cracker.’ Chris Whitaker, CWA New Blood Dagger winning author of Tall Oaks.
‘Ross Armstrong has created a brilliant hero in Tom, and this novel is an enjoyable addition to the psychological thriller genre. Five Stars.’ Heat
Praise for The Watcher:
‘An eerily atmospheric reworking of Hitchcock’s Rear Window’ The Guardian on The Watcher
‘Addictive and eerie, you’ll finish the book wanting to chat about it’ Closer Magazine, Must Read
‘A twisted homage to Hitchcock set in a recognisably post-Brexit broken Britain. Tense, fast-moving and with an increasingly unreliable narrator, The Watcher has all the hallmarks of a winner.' Martyn Waites
‘Ross Armstrong will feed your appetite for suspense’ Evening Standard
‘Unreliable narrator + Rear Window-esque plot = sure-fire hit’ The Sun
‘Brilliantly written…this psychological thriller is definitely one that will keep you up to the early hours. Five Stars.’ Heat, Book of the Week
‘A dark, unsettling page turner’ Claire Douglas, author of Local Girl Missing.
‘Creepy and compelling’ Debbie Howells author of The Bones of You
‘The Watcher is an intense, unsettling read… one that had me feeling like I needed to keep checking over my shoulder as I read.’ Lisa Hall, author of Between You and Me
About the Author
Ross Armstrong is an actor and writer based in North London. He studied English Literature at Warwick University and acting at RADA. He's performed on stage with the RSC in shows such as Oppenheimer in the West End and with the Donmar in Hamlet on Broadway, as well as numerous TV appearances including Foyles War, Jonathan Creek, Mr Selfridge, DCI Banks and the upcoming series of Ripper Street.
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The abduction of some school girls is taking the focus of his colleagues, but Tom’s different view of things enables him to see aspects that others are missing, but will anyone believe him?
So, part abduction/murder story and part the personal journey of Tom, with some interesting perspectives on brain injury and personality change. Tom’s colleagues become a little irritated with him and I found myself in the same place sometimes, so that Tom’s perspective sometimes became challenging to understand and relate to. He is also kind of allowed to get away with a lot more than a normal PCSO would be!
But this is different and does make you think a bit, along with an insight to how the brain works under different circumstances.
When Tom Mondiran becomes a PCSO he does not think that he will be in much danger, but within a week he has been shot. The bullet entered the brain and stayed, but rather than killing Tom, it altered the way he perceived things. Faces no longer make sense and smells give off a colour, this is detrimental, but when three school girls go missing it actually gives him an edge over his colleagues. Shame then that he is still just a PCSO and not only that, a token disabled PCSO that no one takes seriously.
Without the central premise of Tom’s damaged brain, ‘Head Case’ would be an interesting, but standard slice of crime fiction. The kidnappings and various goings on are usual, but how they are perceived are not. Tom is a great narrator as he has a cold logic and dark sense of humour. The book is split between the actual investigation of a crime and Tom handling his new way of thinking. Some of the best parts of the book are the bluntness that Tom deals with people as he no longer has the ability to read social cues – or when he does, he ignores them.
What lifts ‘Head Crime’ from a good book into an excellent one if Armstrong’s ability to create an interesting world around Tom. There is a black sense of fun when Tom returns to work as everyone in the police station knows who he is. They treat him with kid gloves as they see him as broken. Rather than being depressed by this, Tom uses their naivety to his advantage and gets away with far more than he should.
Armstrong also does a great job of using limitations to enhance the story. Not only is Tom at a limitation socially, but also on the career ladder. The relationship he has with his PCSO partner is one of the highlights of the book. They are meant to direct traffic and visit schools, but instead Tom is constantly dragging them into danger. Giving them such a lowly role in the force makes the investigation that more interesting as rules need to be bent.
For all the kidnapping, murder and being shot in the head, ‘Head Case’ is actually a fun read. Armstrong does not get too worried about the minutia of head trauma and makes sure that Tom is an odd, but coherent narrator. The book rattles along at a fast pace and has a good conclusion. Tom’s social quirks and ability to sniff out the solution means that he is a far more interesting central character than most crime thrillers have. I look forward to future outings.
The bullet in Tom’s brain causes him to experience some odd changes. He finds himself unable to recognise faces. He associates smells with colours. Unable to read without effort, he turns to audible books to fill his sudden longing for learning. Oh, and he unable to read social cues. Being a community support officer was not meant to be dangerous – shoplifting, petty crimes and community relations. However, Tom is keen to get back to work and is teamed up with a new partner, the long suffering Emre Bartu. Girls are going missing and Tom has a sudden urge to investigate and new skills, which enable him to make sense of clues that others may miss. Dragging Emre along with him, Tom is suddenly breaking all kinds of rules in his attempt to discover what is going on in the neighbourhood he loves.
This is a funny and interesting mystery. Tom is a wonderful character and his quirky behaviour allows him to push all kinds of boundaries. Of course, some of Tom and Emre’s scrapes are a little unbelievable, but I was fairly happy to go along for the ride. I really hope that these characters appear in further books, as I think this could turn into a good series.
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This book kept me amused and entertained from almost page one to finish, the main character Tom Mondrian is...Read more