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Never Somewhere else is the first crime thriller by Alex Gray and is exclusively set in a modern day Glasgow, the book begins with the series of murders of young women all dumped in the cities St Mungo Park. The book is set in the early 2000's and the main character is DCI William Lorimer who is the chief investigating policeman, we also have a pretty pathologist, a young academic psychologist and a local journalist. The murders are by the same killer who has dumped the bodies after scalping the bodies and has so far escaped any detection. The book comes in at 300 pages and as with all detective fiction tends to roll along at a decent pace, there are plenty of white pages with big cliff-hangers and major sections separated by empty pages so it could easily be read in a day.
Crime thriller has always been something I've enjoyed reading, everyone loves a good crime thriller with plenty of twists and turns, action and hopefully an unusual killer/reason for killing. This book occasionally had moments of enjoyment but was way too generic, Lorimar is a man in his forties, attractive wife, long hours, work-life balance in jeopardy, good-looking but too tired to chase the opportunities which come his way. Anyone else think DCI Banks? Also has a long suffering wife (again Banks), set in Glasgow but has none of the energy of the Logan series by Stephen Macbride or the quality of the writing of Rankin.
The story is a bit predictable, there are a series of gruesome murders right at the start, a hot pathologist who is mysteriously attracted to the consulting psychologist and a series of either hot headed or sensationalist and only has a list of 3-4 possible suspects. The murderer was in truth easy to spot and the reasons not covered in any way except to give the murderer a vague disturbing background and are just plain crazy. So not the best, the writing is better than the speeded American authors who just bulldoze common sense by making everything happen at warp speed but only just, the book has spun out into a series of novels but it's a book best left for the plane or the beach.
==Summary of the story:==
Within a short space of time three young women are murdered in a park in Glasgow. There is immediately concern that the Police are dealing with a serial killer especially as all three women's bodies were slashed in the same way with a bicycle chain. The man leading the investigation is Detective Chief Inspector Lorimer and due to the urgency for a resolution and the lack of leads the Police bring in a psychologist and criminal profiler Dr Solomon Brightman.
As a result of the murders there is a heightened surveillance of the parks and one evening an elderly homeless man Valentine Carruthers is discovered there. The police immediately interview him but he is unable to help them much as his memory is poor and they are unsure if it can be relied upon. As a result he is released by promptly disappears into the overgrowth again. Now in need of a break Lorimer agrees to go on the television programme 'Crimewatch' to share with the public what they know and hopefully get some leads and ultimately catch this evil man.
==My thoughts on this novel:==
I thought this was a very good crime thriller. The style of investigation carried out by DCI Lorimer reminded me of stories I have read recently from fellow authors Peter James or Lisa Gardner. What I found particularly pleased was this was a complex story full of suspense and mystery and as a result full of possibilities of what could and would happen within it. And while Alex Gray's style is similar to the other writers above I like the way she has brought in this criminal profiler to add a new dimension to the investigation.
This is my first experience of the writings of Alex Gray. And shock, horror this is the first in a series of stories featuring Lorimer and Brightman and I read it first. The reason I say this is because I usually pick a middle novel in any series of stories and see if I can pick up the thread without feeling I have missed to much. But this time I fancied reading the début story in the series, this one was written in 2002 and in all there are nine stories within the series. What for me came through loud and clear was this was a well researched story which was rich in detail and quality descriptions.
Alec Gray is an author I have been aware of for a while despite never have picked up one of her books. The reason for this is when I have purchased several books on the internet, the system has on several occasions suggested if I like a particular author I may also like this author. I found this one after looking in several charity shops. I was immediately stuck by the unusual title, which to be honest I still don't really understand!! But I flicked the book over and read the summary of the story. This was quite short just two short paragraphs long but in that time it aroused my interest in the story. I immediately liked the idea of the Police calling in a criminal profiler as I know working with people this this does not necessarily sit comfortably with most Police Departments. So I expected some differences of opinion between him and the lead Police Officer.
However for me it was not all plain sailing and enjoyment. The story started appropriately with a prologue that dealt with the murder of two of the ladies. For me this was very disappointing because these two incidents were covered in about two pages. That was not nearly enough detail and I felt a little robbed as I felt with a longer beginning, I could have learnt more about the victims and get a better sense about what was happening. I just felt the author missed an opportunity as she did not need to give an clues away by expanding this and I think it would have added to the suspense and mystery before the first chapter began.
When the story began the reader was immediately introduced to DCI Lorimer and his team, plus additional a local reporter Martin Enderby who was trying to get an exclusive story for his paper and in the process advance his own career. For me it was a good start as the reader had plenty to think about with the spate of unsolved murders, as Lorimer and his team followed up several lines of enquiries. I liked the way the story started and I felt immediately involved in it and wanted to see where the investigation went next.
For me the story was full of surprises and I had no idea which direction it would go in next. I liked the way Dr Brightman, (good name I thought for a psychologist and criminal profiler) and DCI Lorimer worked with the leading investigating officer wanting the information he received from this man to be wrong and for the traditional Police work to solve the crime. But as the case developed he and the reader were able to see the value of the psychologist insights and opinion and it seemed the start of a beautiful friendship between the two men.
The story had a good pace and a good feel to it. Although I have to admit for me the author made it far too obvious who the guilty party was. As a result I just wanted to be proved wrong but sadly it was never going to happen. The only thing I did not know was why this person had committed the murders but this was to become apparent as the story developed. I'm not sure if I was particularly sharp when I first realised it was this character but it did somewhat ruin the story for me. That said I did enjoy the way the story flowed and also learning more about the key both the latest suspects and the investigating team.
And while I would because of my early deduction not describe it as a page turner, it was always enjoyable and I found I had completed the story in no time at all. With a conclusion to the story that was excellent. It is not often for my money that a conclusion will live up to my expectations but on this occasion it exceeded them. It was very exciting and full of suspense and a fitting ending to a fascinating tale. There was even time for an epilogue to follow this which for me successfully tied up all the loose ends I the investigation and it was good to see what happened once it was all done and dusted.
In this the first in the series I really got to know one of the leading characters namely DCI Lorimer. I felt the author concentrated more on him and as a result I really got to know and understand him. I found him a very likeable man whose attitude towards his work was understandable. It was good to have a lead character who was happy in his settled home life and who cared deeply about getting evil of the streets of Glasgow. I found I really liked him and could relate to his beliefs while wanting to know more about him. The same could be said about Dr Brightman who I felt was not as well described throughout the book and while I felt I knew and understood Lorimer the same could not be said about Brightman. Yes he was physically described but I did not feel I knew him or what he was thinking at any time in the story. Maybe this will follow in the second book in the series but I did find it a little frustrating.
The stories length for me was a little shorter than it should have been. The reason for this is I would have liked a little more about the events leading up to the three ladies being murdered. Other than that there was always plenty of depth within the story, with some clever twists in the story that were unexpected. I certainly enjoyed this one and I will be looking to read another in this series very soon as I like a clever mystery that makes the reader think and this one certainly did it for me.
For me this was a very good crime thriller that always had me involved and wondering. I think the author has created two good characters and I enjoy the way they interact with each other. This was a well through out story with an exciting ending to it. The only real downside was that I would have initially liked more detail about the events leading to the first three murders and I was lucky enough to suss out the guilty party far too early in the story.
Price 5.59 New at Amazon
Year first published: 2002
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
© CPTDANIELS February 2013.