Top positive review
A worthy winner of the Theakston crime award - compelling plot written with literary skill
26 July 2018
Until he won the Theakston's Crime Award last week, I am ashamed to say I had never heard of Stav Sherez. One week later, I have read all three in the Carrigan and Miller series, because for me this author offers that rare combination of a compelling plot, with Big Ideas and told with literary skill. The Intrusions opens with a girl in a bar who may just have drunk too much, but Sherez's writing immediately alerts us to the fact that something is not quite right. 'She turns and the room turns with her, people smearing into carousel horses, their faces horny and beaked'. She staggers out into an alley, and the next time we see her she is a corpse. Carrigan and Miller are called into investigate, as the nature of the murder combined with other missing girls suggests a possible serial killer. Initially, this seems like just another (well written) crime novel, but the deeper Carrigan and Miller dig, the darker it gets, as it becomes clear that the killer has used 21st century technology to take stalking and torturing to a whole new level. What is most frightening for the reader is how Stav Sherez reveals an underbelly of humanity who right now could be hacking into our own computers and lives. Although the crimes he describes are characteristically dark and unusual, the motives of the killer are all too believable, and the technology he uses to achieve them are worryingly accessible. Like the other two in the series, this is a compelling and thought-provoking book, but it is the quality of the writing that makes this stand out for me. Stav Sherez has a talent for capturing the constantly shifting landscape of London and the thousands of different villages and tribes that fight to survive within it. His writing has the energy and compression of Gerald Manley Hopkins, albeit in a city setting ('Two pigeons were fighting on the window ledge outside. An explosion of noise and dust, the scuffle-fright of flying feathers and flapping wings'). To read in the acknowledgements and his own blog about how this terrific novel came to be under the most difficult of circumstances is extraordinary. I sincerely hope the fourth novel is written in happier conditions, and that we get to read it very soon. Highly recommended.