Today I’m delighted to take part in the Rachel’s Random Resources blog tour for John Mead’s mystery novel, “The Fourth Victim“. It is a police procedural set in London’s Whitechapel, so it caught my interest right away.
BLURB: Three parks, three deaths, four victims, two grieving families, one murder investigation team and an unknown number of killers. Can an answer be found? Whitechapel is being gentrified, the many green spaces of the area, which typify London as a capital city, give the illusion of peace, tranquility and clean air but are also places to find drug dealers, sexual encounters and murder. Detective Sergeant Julie Lukula doesn’t dislike Inspector Merry but he has hardly set the world of the Murder Investigation Team East alight. And, it looked as it the inspector was already putting the death of the young female jogger, found in the park with her head bashed in, down to a mugging `gone wrong’. The victim deserved more. But the inspector isn’t ruling anyone out; the evidence will, eventually, lead him to an answer…
What better setting than London’s Whitechapel for a serial murder novel? Set in the present day, this time the murders are puzzling in that they are committed in public parks, the victims are young women with little in common, and there seems to be no robbery, no sexual assault, just one deadly whack with a hammer to the back of the head…The police tasked with the investigation are struggling. Due to budget cuts, the manpower is less than would be optimal for this type of case, the lead detective, DI Merry, seems to be somewhat distant due to the fact that he feels he has reached a crossroads in his career.
The victims had little in common other than that they all worked, or were in some way linked to the nearby Berner Centre, a shopping mall.
Then, an attempted suicide by one of the worker’s at the Berner Centre leads them to a match for the fingerprints found on the blood covered plastic bag recovered at the murder scene. The woman who attempted suicide is mentally ill and suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder. Could this be their big break in the case – or, is this just more convolution in a case that is already muddled enough? One of the woman’s therapists, a Doctor Hassan is brought in to help with the case. As an old ‘friend’ of DI Merry, she is welcomed.
“The Fourth Victim” is a decent police procedural with plenty of characters, an interesting premise, and a setting befitting a novel featuring serial murders. The routine investigation procedures of the police were well described and their frustration at low policing budgets and less manpower was palpable.
The main character, Detective Inspector Matthew Merry, was quite a worthy addition to the police procedural protagonists that I have read. His sidekick, DS Julie Lukula was interesting, bright, and ambitious.
The pace of the novel was spot-on. The research into the specific mental illness mentioned throughout the book was evident. The dialogue was well written and I enjoyed Merry’s understated sense of humour.
My main gripe with the book is how the author used the character’s names. One minute he was referring to them by their surnames, the next minute he was using their given names. It made for confusion on several occasions. As there were quite a lot of characters, referring to each by two different names was unwarranted in my opinion. In addition, there is a suspect with a multiple personality disorder, which adds several more characters vying for your attention. Also, he named his two head coppers Matthew and Malcolm. Seven letters each beginning with an ‘M’. Couldn’t one of them have a dissimilar name? Forgive me… I rant. Some readers would find these things insignificant, but I feel I must relate my true feelings on the matter.
As soon as the character was introduced, it seemed obvious to me who the murderer was. I kept turning the pages to see if I was correct – and I was – partly. The ending of the novel tied up the loose ends in a satisfactory way and left me with a smile on my face.
Overall, I found “The Fourth Victim” to be a well-researched, and worthy addition to the police procedural sub-genre and I believe that readers who read this type of mystery will be well entertained by the read. Although British police procedurals are undoubtedly one of my favourite types of crime fiction, I’m undecided as to whether I will follow this potential series should there be another installment.
Publisher: The Book Guild Ltd.
ISBN: 9781912575367 ASIN: B07JP8WKYG
Check out the other stops on this blog tour:
In his own words:
I was born in the mid-fifties in East London, on part of the largest council estate ever built. I was the first pupil from my local secondary modern school to attend university. I have travelled extensively during my life from America to Tibet. I enjoy going to the theatre, reading and going to the pub. It is, perhaps, no surprise that I am an avid ‘people watcher’ and love to find out about people, their lives, culture and history. Many of the occurrences recounted and the characters found in my novels are based on real incidents and people I have come across. Although I have allowed myself a wide degree of poetic licence in writing about the main characters, their motivations and the killings that are depicted.
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