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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 19 April 2016
Three young men take off to Uganda for one last adventure holiday before they put their student days behind them and venture into the world of work. But Uganda is in the grip of civil unrest, with gangs of rebel soldiers, many of them children, making the country a dangerous place for Ugandans and visitors alike. Jack, Ben and David are horrified by some of the things they see and, when they get lost and are stopped at a rebel roadblock, they realise they're in serious trouble.

Years later in the present, Jack Carrigan is a detective in the Met, tasked to investigate a horrific murder of a Ugandan student living in London. Still haunted by his own experiences in Uganda, Carrigan is reluctant to consider a possible political motive and tries to convince himself this is a straightforward sex crime. But his new partner, Geneva Miller, isn't so sure – the girl had been researching one of the worst of the rebel groups and there are features of the murder that make Miller think there's a connection.

I freely admit am excessively tired of current trends and clichés in modern crime novels, so let's speed quickly by them. Carrigan is typically angst-ridden – in fact, so is Miller, to a lesser degree. Miller drinks too much. Each detective has a quirk – Carrigan, a coffee addiction with every cup described; and Miller, a rash brought on by stress, and this is kind of a stressful case, so she scratches. Constantly. (However, I've actually previously read Eleven Days, the second in the series, in which Carrigan seems to have got his coffee addiction under control and someone must have told Miller about antihistamines, so it's good to know that these annoying traits disappear.) The book is unnecessarily gory – the murder methods are brutal and sickening in the extreme and told in far too much detail, enhanced by some added gruesomeness in the autopsy room. And vomiting. (No-one ever vomited in crime fiction prior to about 1990 – now they all do it. Or urinate/defecate with fear. What has happened to the human race? Can I really be the only person who doesn't want to read about people losing control of their bodily functions? Harrow my soul, dear authors, not my stomach...)

Now for the positives. Sherez writes very well – way above average standard in contemporary crime writing. He has clearly done his research on the situation in Uganda thoroughly and that whole element of the book is completely convincing, adding a considerable amount of depth to what would otherwise be a fairly standard police procedural. The prologue, with the three students in Uganda, is very well done, building a great atmosphere of tension in a few pages and making the reader immediately care about the outcome. Although we are only taken back to Uganda occasionally throughout the book, this strand is the one that held my interest most and felt most authentic.

Both Carrigan and Miller are well-drawn characters, likeable despite their angst and quirkiness, and with plenty of room for future development. Carrigan is still mourning the death of his wife, and Miller's marriage has just broken up, but neither of these elements is allowed to dominate the story. This is the first time Carrigan and Miller have worked together, and we see them developing a respect for each other that looks like it may in time blossom into friendship, or perhaps more. There's a lot of office politics going on – too much for my taste – but it's well done, even if there are parts of it which don't quite come over as believable.

The main plot and investigation elements are interesting and convincingly written. The detectives play within the rules for the most part except, of course, for the obligatory police-officer-beats-up-suspect scenario. The writing slips a little when it goes into dialogue, with people expressing themselves with an eloquence that doesn't ring true to their characters. Unfortunately the ending does the usual thing of throwing credibility away in order to achieve a dramatic dénouement.

I know I've been critical of several things in the book, but partly, that's down to my personal taste, and partly, the preponderance of well-worn clichés is the kind of thing that often happens in the first of a series – sadly, may even be necessary for a first book to find a publisher in these days when what they seem to want is for every book to be identical to the last best-seller. Overall, I like Sherez's writing style very much, though I do wish he would tone down the gore. The characterisation is very good, especially of the two central characters. And, as in Eleven Days, the quality of research shines through, with the secondary story providing a strong backdrop for the main action. Recommended, and I'll be looking forward to seeing how the series develops in future.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 August 2014
This - the third novel from Stav Sherez (following on from The Devil's Playground and The Black Monastery) - is the start of his Carrigan / Miller pairing of an unlikely detective team, both with deep personal issues but a good knack for solving the case in hand, in spite of not quite fitting into the 'new politically astute' times of policing.

The book delves into a deep underground of African immigrants, often coming from war ravaged lands, with dark personal histories, trying to make a living in London. Starting with a brutal murder of an Ugandan student, the pair are sent on a roller-coaster journey across London on the one hand, with their personal lives also being drawn out in the process (Carrigan's past especially is slowly being teased apart concurrently with the main story).

While the book definitely has a fair share of murders and crimes and a consequently action filled twist, the author still manages to include a fair element of character development, as well as some overarching issues into the book. No characters are completely flat and one dimensional - even the slimy bosses get to shine positively every now and again (or at least it is easier to understand some of their own pressures at times). This makes the book a much more satisfying read, than a one dimensional good versus evil caricaturization ever could.

The slight flaws displayed by the protagonists, too, make you yearn for learning more of them in the future instalments (luckily, there is a next one - Eleven Days: Carrigan and Miller 2 - out there already).

So all in all a very accomplished, multifaceted crime story, with enough action, politics and other intriguing elements to keep you engaged at several levels. If you like your crime as more than a procession of a murder a page atrocities, you will hardly go wrong here.
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on 19 November 2017
It starts off quite well in Africa and makes the reader wonder what the connection is with the next chapter in London. But it gets a bit bogged down with lots of names, a slow plot, and poor police procedure. Despite attempts at a few plot twists it's easy to see who the bad guy is long before the end and I struggled to finish it but battled through to the end. Shan't bother with the next in the series even if it is 99p.
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on 26 July 2012
Stav Sherez has produced a crime fiction marvel; a most incredible way with words.

Where other crime writers may stop at the typical boundaries, Sherez pushes them. Venturing into the currently relevant Ugandan politics, Sherez introduces an evil protagonist, leaving his victims mauled and bloodied in a distinctive signature mark. Can Jack Carrigan shake off his own personal connections to the situation and focus on tracking the killer before more end up dead? With the Foreign Office breathing down his neck and DS Miller watching him closely, will they be able to solve the true motive for the murder or will he get thrown from the case?

It is a fantastic, swiftly paced story written in a refreshingly descriptive manner which enlightens every sense and creates a deeper level of understanding of the characters, painting a picture from their own mental pains and frustrations to their own character afflictions.

Definitely worth a read and I will definitely be delving into other books from his collection.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 November 2014
Having not read anything else by Sherez I was looking forward to starting the first in the Carrigan and Miller series. Also knowing that there has only been one follow up to date (Eleven Days published in 2103) I know I’m not too far behind. The pairing of the unlikely two lead characters works extremely well given their backgrounds and personal history. It took me quite a few chapters to really get under the skin of Jack Carrigan but I really liked this weirdly private and quirky bloke. Except as the story progresses you realise that quirkiness is just his defence mechanism to not allow people to delve too close. On the opposite side, Geneva Miller is clawing her way back after a demotion and is finding it hard trying to keep both sides of the fence happy. I warmed to Geneva more than Jack but by the end of the book I couldn’t imagine either of them working with anybody else.

Characters aside the story was quite something. Taking us through war ravaged countries and then being dragged to the present murder that has taken place in London of a young female Ugandan Student. Sherez clearly has the knowledge and maybe experience in managing to write about this subject with such conviction. There were parts that had my stomach turning; but in the back of my mind the brutal reminder that although this is a work of fiction, the history of some of these countries is shockingly real. There are plenty of twists in this complex book and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. This is most certainly a series which I will be continuing and would definitely put it on the recommended list.
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on 9 November 2017
Convoluted plot, good characters and well written but the police bit does not ring true. Carrigan is put in charge of investigating a murder and Miller is sent to help but also to spy on him, both are under a cloud so why are they trusted with this case? Indeed Carrigan has “history” in Africa, all the more reason not to assign him. The rhythm of the story telling lets it down but I suppose you have to make time to allow Miller to catch up and save the day. Promising.
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on 31 May 2012
I hadn't tried this author before and selected purely on the 'if you like that you'll like this' amazon sales thingy - a system that fails me more often than not. However, with 'A Dark Redemption' I hit the jackpot. A good 'flawed' detective BUT even better, a flawed female sidekick who was three dimensional -Hooray. A story set in London - albeit a London many people are blind too - which was gritty and sad and I felt very realistic. The best bit for me though was the story... Brilliant. Dark and scary and informative at the same time; with a twist at the end that I didn't see coming at all. Will now read other books by Stav Sherez as the dude can certainly tell a good tale.
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on 4 December 2012
I bought this via my daily deal and having read some interesting and positive reviews thought it was likely to be a decent book. I certainly wasn't disappointed. I've never read anything by Stav Sherez before but will be looking out for more.
Previous reviewers have covered just about everything without giving anything away but it is very much out of the ordinary with the intermingling of Countries, the flash backs, the drip feeding of the main characters and the amount of clever twists in the plot.
A very much enjoyed read and I'd certainly recommend it to any crime/thriller addict.
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on 23 January 2018
Not as good as I'd expected. Had read decent things about the new Carrigan and Miller book but thought I'd start at the beginning. This wasn't very well written and the story was muddled. I'm not going to bother with the rest of the series.
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on 21 October 2012
I bought this ebook when it was only 99p. At that price it was phenomenally good value. It took me a few months to get round to reading it and now I come to write this review I see that it has shot up in price to £6.39. My eyes are watering at that - it was very good, but not THAT good.

It is well written, you can tell that this is a professional writer at work (previously a journalist). It's well researched and sets the historical scene as well as it does the modern. The author is particularly good at painting his scenes for the reader, whether that be London or Africa. It taught me a lot about Ugandan history that I had not known previously and he really made the fear come alive in my head.

We are drip fed the history of the two main protagonists, who are well rounded and likeable. They're believable, we are given their foibles as well as their strengths. They work well together and complement each other in the way that real life good teams do.

It builds to a satisfying end, with a good twist. This has all the makings of the beginnings of a good series. Only if it is sensibly priced though...
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