First off, it is very dark in subject matter. The reader knows that going in – it IS about serial murders after all. No, it wasn’t the subject matter that put me off at first it was the writing style. Short clipped sentences that read a bit like an episode of crime TV. Then long, run-on sentences. Missing punctuation. I didn’t think I would continue as the first chapter or two had little if any character development, just descriptions of horrific crimes…. BUT, then I found I couldn’t stop reading!
The atmosphere was tense. The characters revealed themselves slowly, and I found the two police officers to be some of the most interesting in recent crime fiction. Case in point, the lead investigator, Victoria Bullrush. Known to her team as “Bullface”, she is a stickler for rules who has little faith in the competency of her fellow police officers. She is a middle aged woman in a seemingly loveless marriage. The mother to two teenage boys she seems to have nothing in common with. But she was once married to a man she loved. Her first marriage. Her ex-husband divorced her because he blamed her for the death of their beloved daughter by a drunk driver.
Then we meet Bullface’s second in command, Aaron Fletcher. Aaron is a happily married man, though his sleeplessness and long working hours are putting an immense strain on his relationship with his wife. He is so very tired. Tired of trying to solve what seems an unsolvable case, tired of hearing that yet another young woman has met a grisly end. Guilt for not catching the killer – for not protecting the women. He wishes he had chosen a different vocation…a fisherman maybe.
The action takes place in an unnamed, large city somewhere in the United Kingdom. The serial murders are escalating. Alarmingly, the murderer is numbering his victims by carving a number into the hand of his victims. The victims seem to have absolutely nothing in common. No linking factors. Just that they are all women between the ages of nineteen and thirty-eight.The community is fearful, paranoid, and, increasingly angry at the vulnerability they feel. They are unhappy that the police have not found the perpetrator. Months go by, the murders continue and still the police are no further forward.
The reader realizes that the perpetrator is somehow connected to the police – as he admits they would recognize him if they encountered him… He loves the feeling of superiority over the police. He lusts for the kill. The control he feels when about to murder.
A page-turner! Then, the story ended. Abruptly. I wasn’t ready.
So, to wrap up, I didn’t care for the beginning, I LOVED the middle 85% of the novel, then I was somewhat taken aback by the end. I felt that the motivation of the serial murderer was not fleshed out to my satisfaction. I very much liked the police officers. It is a very different novel. The writing was not what I’m used to, but I read voraciously once I got into it. This is a debut novel that deserves to be read. I would definitely like to read more by this promising author before I make up my mind about her writing.
Charlotte M. Thompson lives in Nottingham, England. She is currently working on her second novel.