Top critical review
112 people found this helpful
on 2 May 2013
The premise of this is great - 48 hours to find £250k, or your blackmailer will kill you. That's the main driver for the first victim we meet. Later victims, and some detective work by the City police, the Met and the victim + his security firm play out the who what and where.
One of the things that jarred me out of the story was the statement from the police about death threats: "It is our official position that such threats are almost always made by people who are simply letting off steam" (location 253). Sorry, but that bit doesn't work for me. The major foundation behind the story is that the polce won't help, at least initially. This is despite there being credible written warnings, long distance telephotos and a mock shooting with an army issue paintball gun.
The second is the police procedure is off by a country mile - statements being prepared at home, IT investigations being done 200 pages after a complaint etc. There's no explanation why the police allow civilians to sit in on all of the investigation. No police force would allow a victim to sit in, let alone his bodyguard, and certainly not on investigations into other crimes committed by the same criminal.
The third is the poor proofreading e.g. "I'd like you make a detailed statement" instead of "to make a detailed statement" (location 256), "He walked long the Greenwich High Road" instead of "along the Greenwich High Road" (location 295), partial capitaliations e.g. "close Protection Office", too many full stops in an ellipse ("Battery.....", location 481), misuse of terminology ("I suggest that befre you slander yourself", location 630), mistaken word use ("No-one ever entered the great halls of London with being awed" instead of without, location 689), missing words "He reached in a brough out a velvet pouch" rather than "and brought out".
As well as proofreading errors, there are inconstencies in the story detail. For example, the blackmailer wears a "City suit purchased from a supermarket back in Yorkshire" when buying a £1m painting. That sort of cheap suit would stick out like a sore thumb at a high end West London establishment. There are a number of other inconsistencies, but to avoid spoilers I won't name them here. Location 4512 is perhaps the most striking example of this.
Despite the flaws, this is actually a really good story. It's compelling, drives the reader onwards and the authorial voice is very pleasant. It feels like the version released is an unpolished manuscript rather than the finished article. A little more care and attention and I'd have happilly given this five stars. As it stands, I think this merits 7/10 or 3.5 stars.