A while back, I polled my followers so that YOU could pick which police procedural series I should begin next. The first poll was a resounding success with the recommendation of “For Reasons Unknown” by Michael Wood. This second poll was equally as successful. “Perfect Remains” was, without the slightest doubt, a 5 STAR read.
A body has been burnt beyond recognition in a stone bothy in a remote area in the Cairngorm Mountains. Though the body is burned, the police do find a tooth and a remnant of a scarf. With these small clues, DNA proves that the body was that of Elaine Buxton, a lawyer who had been reported missing a few weeks back.
Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has just come to Edinburgh from Lyon, France. It is only his second day of work for Police Scotland’s Major Investigations Team. Though he was born in Scotland and his father was Scottish, he has lived in France since the age of four. His immersion in the Scottish weather and the strong local accents are more than a bit of a culture shock for Luc. He left France under a dark cloud which severed ties to both his former employers “Interpol”, and also to his friends. Even his mother wants no more to do with him. He no longer even likes himself.
Luc is handsome, but this has affected his life in a negative, rather than a positive manner. With a heavy French accent, his new team don’t know what to make of him. Detective Sergeant Lively (who is his immediate junior and manages his team) is openly antagonistic and insubordinate. The other DI at his station is Ava Turner. She is the only person to really befriend Luc, and does not make friends easily.
“Ava Turner was the sort of woman who didn’t care about impressing anyone. It was a relief to be with someone so lacking in pretense, so comfortable in her own skin.”
The killer, Reginald King, is a middle-aged, saggy-bellied, follicly challenged, man who works in the Philosophy Department at the University of Edinburgh. He spends months studying and preparing for his crimes. He meticulously researches his victims and their lives. He has spent his entire life feeling undervalued, ignored, and made to feel a fool and a ‘loser’. Now, he has it in his mind that he will seek out only those women who he feels are his intellectual equals… Yet, he want to be the one in control and to attain the stature and authority which he has always believed was his due.
As the case lingers on, with no real leads, Luc Callanach becomes more and more frustrated. He is also despondent about his former life and homesick for France. When a second murder is linked to the first, he becomes even more invested in finding the killer. The second victim, a well-liked and well-respected female vicar, is Jane Magee. The ‘powers that be’ bring in a criminal profiler who leads the team down the wrong path. Luc knows this, but his opinions about the profiler are in the minority. Luc’s frustration increases.
Luc works all hours and hasn’t really unpacked the boxes which he brought with him from France. Even his one form of release, skydiving, will prove mind altering and disappointing in equal measure. Luc has hit a wall…
Meanwhile, parallel to his double murder investigation, Luc helps DI Ava Turner with a case she is working on – the disturbing case of three newborn infants being left outside in a local park to perish.
Between the two cases, the DI tag team have more than enough to keep them busy.
Let me state, up front, that I had a few wobbles with this novel at the beginning. The killer, Reginald King, was a psychopath, and in the way of true psychopaths, his crimes were grisly, cruel, and absolutely unnecessary. It was often hard to read.
That being said, by the time I was really into the book, I literally could not put it down. I know many reviewers use that phrase, but it seldom applies to me. This time it did. It was riveting! The characters had become alive to me in a way that I was totally invested in the outcome of the story.
As you might have surmised, this is not a ‘whodunit’. We know from the outset who is the criminal here. We read to see how Luc Callanach and his colleagues will find the killer and see justice done. And what a ride!
“Perfect Remains” is book one in what is now a five book series.
I intend to follow this series avidly. “Perfect Remains” was a thoroughly enjoyable crime thriller and I recommend it to everyone who enjoys the genre.
I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Avon/Harper Collins via Edelweiss for purposes of reading and reviewing. My honest review is my way of saying thank-you.
Helen Fields’ first love was drama and music. From a very young age she spent all her free time acting and singing until law captured her attention as a career path. She studied law at the University of East Anglia, then went on to the Inns of Court School of Law in London.
After completing her pupillage, she joined chambers in Middle Temple where she practised criminal and family law for thirteen years. Undertaking cases that ranged from Children Act proceedings and domestic violence injunctions, to large scale drug importation and murder, Helen spent years working with the police, CPS, Social Services, expert witnesses and in Courts Martials.
After her second child was born, Helen left the Bar. Together with her husband David, she went on to run Wailing Banshee Ltd, a film production company, acting as script writer and producer.
Helen self-published two fantasy books as a way of testing herself and her writing abilities. She enjoyed the creative process so much that she began writing in a much more disciplined way, and decided to move into the traditional publishing arena through an agent.
Perfect Remains is set in Scotland, where Helen feels most at one with the world. Edinburgh and San Francisco are her two favourite cities, and she travels whenever she can.
Beyond writing, she has a passion for theatre and cinema, often boring friends and family with lengthy reviews and critiques. Taking her cue from her children, she has recently taken up karate and indoor sky diving. Helen and her husband now live in Hampshire with their three children and two dogs.