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Enthralling and never boring
on 22 April 2015
This book picks up almost exactly where the previous one in the serious finishes. A man who is virtually out of his mind in grief vows to find and kill the person who created that grief, and is careless enough to repeat it in company he had no business being in, let alone saying those sort of things to. This creates a whole lot of trouble for the man, and draws several other people into all kinds of problems.
This book explores the psychological issues faced by those involved in a fatal incident, even those who are used to dealing with violent death, but not in any clinical manner. It affects different people in differing ways, for some it is coming to terms with the loss of a loved one and with guilt and their inability to keep them safe. For others there is simply the feeling of failure, and yet others are afraid of the consequences of their actions which led directly or indirectly to the outcome. Those who feel guilty seek to take actions to rectify their shortcomings whilst those who should feel guilty seek to justify their actions and shift the blame onto other shoulders. Throw an ambitious and unscrupulous woman into the mix and we have a cracking storyline. That isn't enough of a mix for this author however, we have a few criminals left desperate by the failure of their last venture, forced together by circumstance but unable to trust each other. The numbers gradually diminish as the story progresses and we are ultimately left with the most desperate of them, but there is a stranger looking for two people and you just know that when he finds them it isn't going to be a social occasion. The tension is built gradually through several different scenarios, we don't stay at any one scene for too long. For me that really was not a problem as I found that it worked well to slip from a potentially dangerous situation to an entirely different one, and then when we came back to the first situation it packed more of a punch because it was a sudden reminder of the nature of the peril.
Roger Conniston is something of a superhero - as he is recovering from a serious knee injury (incredibly painful) he takes on a whole new investigation, he gets himself into, and out of, impossible situations. He has to walk into a situation where he knows that in the normal course of events, he cannot come out of it alive, but to refuse to do so will cause another death. He has to fight his way out of more situations than a man in his condition (or any condition) really should. When he faces his nemesis, he finds reserves of courage and strength he obviously didn't know he had. Although part of your head is telling you that Roger is the protagonist and therefore he HAS to survive, part of you is constantly wondering how he can. I can't help but feel sorry for Roger, whatever his failings, he really doesn't deserve the rubbish life has thrown at him. He just wants to get on and do his job, he's not desperately ambitious, he doesn't normally go looking for trouble but it certainly seems to come looking for him and in this book, one of his troubles bears a very familiar name.
Although the scene of crime work isn't quite as prominent in this book as it was in the previous ones, it is still the framework on which the story hangs, and the author neatly points up the differences between good and bad SOCO work without lecturing or giving a Forensics 101. I liked the detail given in this regard, and particularly at a gruesome scene where someone has gone to great trouble to hinder proper identification of the body, not only detailing the difference between a fastidious approach to crime scene management and a desire to make a hasty job of it and then try to make the evidence fit the theory, but then showing how this affected relationships in the team.
This is another well presented story with many facets, which will in turn repel (because of the thoroughly reprehensible characters involved) and enthrall but will never bore the reader.