Perfect Death: The gripping new crime book you won’t be able to put down! (A DI Callanach Thriller, Book 3) Paperback – 25 Jan 2018
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‘Must read! With nail-biting twists at every turn, [Perfect Remains] will have readers gripped from start to finish.’ Closer
‘Read it in two sittings. I literally had no choice. A fast and enthralling thriller, pitting a new, very human hero against one of the scariest psychos I've yet encountered in crime fiction.’ Sunday Times bestseller, Paul Finch
‘Without doubt, this is one of the best first detective series I have read.’ Woman’s Way Magazine
‘Genuinely chilling.’ Saga Magazine
‘Watch out Rebus, McRae and Perez there’s a new detective in the running to become Scotland’s fictional top cop…a real cracker of a page-turner that is truly difficult to put down.’ Scotland Correspondent
About the Author
Helen Fields studied law at the University of East Anglia, then went on to the Inns of Court School of Law in London. After completing her pupillage, she joined chambers in Middle Temple where she practised criminal and family law for thirteen years. After her second child was born, Helen left the Bar.
Together with her husband David, she runs a film production company, acting as script writer and producer. Perfect Remains is set in Scotland, where Helen feels most at one with the world. Helen and her husband now live in Los Angeles with their three children and two dogs.
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Ava, the lead and newly promoted DCI, has a friendship and professional relationship with troubled DI Luc Callanach. His backstory recurs and this book adds another detail to his difficult past. Ava's exchanges with her demanding and brusque female Superintendent are ascerbic and highly entertaining. DS Lively is his usual rude and belligerent self and his exchanges with his boss and Ava are true to type. There's a shocker in store involving a leading character and a death. This thread is totally different to the main plot which involves a serial killer on the loose in Edinburgh.
She draws together a strong set of police characters, with the underbelly of vice and those associated in the criminal underworld equally well depicted. The Edinburgh locus is a real strength; it's easy to visualise so many of the scenes. And the plotting is superb as she skilfully develops and draws together numerous threads. The whole is a tense and totally satisfying thriller which I finished in almost one sitting and left me wanting more. To fully appreciate this book, although there's adequate backstory, it's better to read the first two books. The characters are evolving and I can only say that, for me, it's the best new detective series of recent years.
My thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for an early review copy.
For Ava, Begbie's case is personal, but her reluctance to share what is happening leads to a wider gap opening between her and Callanach. Callanach has his own concerns though, faced with the suspicious death of a young girl, found naked near to Arthur's Seat in Hollyrood Park. In the near dead of winter her condition makes no sense and yet there are no outward signs of a struggle. Her family cannot accept the fact she may have killed herself and to Callanach it also doesn;t seem to make sense. And as he investigates further, whilst also being pulled into a case of a road traffic collision in which the potential victim has disappeared, things for the team, especially Ava and Callanach are set to get very complicated, and potentially deadly.
Now compared to the murders in the last two books, the ones you are faced with here are a lot less gory but no less distressing, especially for the ones that are left behind. Despite the outward appearance in the first case of the victims death being almost serene, the truth is far removed. But the manner of death, poisoning, makes the overall tone and pace of the book feel very different to its predecessors. Not in a bad way.
Although it felt a slower paced read, it was no less gripping, and having the two separate threads interesting at various stages kept the pages turning and the attention one-hundred percent on the action. There are still moments of great peril, where first Ava and then Callanach and DS Lively are all placed in great jeopardy and these moments will have you on the edge of your seat. But there are also many moments of seemingly calm narrative. Don't let this fool you. Nothing in this book is innocuous. Every interaction serves a purpose.
Now much like the first book in the series, from very early on we have a good idea of who the killer may be, a certain character who keeps appearing. It is all too clear that their actions are not as altruistic as they would have people believe. The way in which Helen Fields has crafted a character who has the ability to be all things to all people, to take on a multitude of personas and thereby hide in plain sight is brilliant. And the clinical justification of what they are doing, how they pick their victims, and the joy, albeit temporary, that they get from seeing the devastation they cause is actually quite chilling.
It is a very different kind of menace that you feel in reading this book. Not an overall threat of violence, although that, at times, occurs. But knowing who the killer is, knowing that they have chosen their next victim and you are watching them as they fall prey, knowing the inevitable will happen and wanting to shout at them not to be so blind whilst secretly wondering just how they will pull it off this time. That feeling. That's the one that will have you gripped in a different kind of way, poised and waiting to see if this is the one person who will work it out before it is all too late.
The sub plot surrounding Begbie also gives you a chill of a completely different kind. With surprising links back to a previous plotline, this case pushes Ava to her limits and really tests the strength of the bond between her and Callanach. Faced with all manner of betrayal, it is no wonder Ava is on edge and snapping at those who would help her, especially Callanach. While the chemistry is still there, they lack the same kind of casual freedom in their interactions that they had when they shared a rank. Now, with Ava's promotion, everything seems a little off kilter and developments in Callanach's personal life, including the reappearamce of his estranged mother, add another edge to the story and their friendship. It's clear that things, tensions, between them are definitely not resolved, but there is a definite pause on anything happening between them. For now.
I love the way in which Helen Fields has not only developed the characters in this book, making you instantly bond with them and making it harder when they become victims, but has also captured the very real feeling of loss and the different ways in which people process it. Not only for the victims of the murderer, but also for those touched by the sub plots within. The emotions are very raw and feel very real, from frustration, to anger, to outright grief, it is all perfectly captured on the page. Speaking of characters, brilliant to see Lance Proudfoot back, although he's put through the wars once again. It seems that being friends with Luc Callanach can be a very painful experience. And even DS Lively surprised me in this one. There is more to the grumpy old Sergeant than I first thought, a perfect blend of gruffness and humour but an overwhelming urge to do the right thing, including some not so hidden fathering instincts. I do believe he is starting to grow on me.
A brilliant addition to the series and with a teaser of number four at the end of the book, I for one cannot wait to see what journey Helen Fields takes us on next.
I really enjoy the Luc Callanach character, appearing almost too good to be true, he has a great back story which gets fully developed in Perfect Death and we understand a lot more about him and his relationship with his mother during this book.
The story itself is very clever, with little sub-stories that inevitably interweave and merge as the tale develops. In fact there are two main threads to this book and one of them contains micro-stories as you are introduced to each new victim. The killer is clever too and (without wishing to give anything away) their different ways of ensnaring their victims is really well constructed and orchestrated. Helen Fields has peppered throughout the book several emotional punches that are delivered with skill and aplomb.
DCI Ava Turner finds herself newly promoted and she is a great female lead - and a much more tangible character than Luc Callanach, for me anyway.
DI Luc Callanach and DCI Ava Turner's relationship is an interesting one, will they won't they? I think we all know they'd like to!
I love this series. They are pretty much flawless crime novels. Great, well rounded characters in Callanach and Turner, a female lead as important and believable as the male lead, no cliches such as female death and rape as a glorified, easy crime, gritty crimes, tightly woven plots, complex layers that tie up satisfyingly. You absolutely cannot go wrong with these books.
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