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This book is part of a series by Jardine featuring the detective, Bob Skinner, a strong authoritative character in charge of investigating major crimes. It is the first I have read of the series, so admittedly I do not know much about the other books to compare, and it is also not the type of book I normally read. However, with this borne in mind I have still found much to discuss.
I was worried that I would find it hard to follow or understand because without previous 'episodes' that established his character it would be like starting a book halfway through. My worries were not necessary and I soon felt quite familiar with the Skinner family. At first I found it a bit confusing on the who's who side; it takes a while to recall who is being talked about at times so I had to read back a couple of times at the beginning but then I do have a dodgy memory. About ten chapters in I fully understood the story.
It's a typical crime/thriller book with an element of suspense, which I feel has been put into effect by the author's writing style and the general structure of the plot.
This book provides a fascinating insight into the working life of a detective and an impression of how much they have to do in such short spaces of time. Bob and Sarah Skinner are just an ordinary couple, enjoying the first day of the Edinburgh Festival when the sudden explosion that turns out to be a terrorist attack forces them into their professional capacities. Bob must organise a team to be on guard for all the Festival events across the city and, at the same time uncover the organisation responsible for the attack as well as a letter threatening further, even worse atrocities. The trouble is, they are completely clueless as to who is behind the attack and what their motive could be, until further disasters occur. The people behind the attack are both capable and willing to take extreme measures. Only time will tell whether they can catch them before it is too late...
The paragraphs and their containing chapters are short, simple and easy to get through, so you can easily break down your reading into chunks as small as you like without needing to skim a couple of pages to go over what you read last time. I hate the thought of long stretches of writing as even though I probably read that much in one go, it just looks so tiresome that I won't have a break until I get to the end! It certainly is easier to cope with the bite-size bits of information.
Jardine is a no-nonsense writer and there's not much drivel (although personally I find the couple of sexually explicit chapters a waste of time for most of us). His descriptions are brief but clear and whilst he keeps you wondering what will happen next he is very to-the-point. At times, I have to admit I found myself quite frustrated with wanting to know what the next move would be - possibly a reflection of the way the police team are under pressure to seek out the next move of the terrorists. The book is not slow but there is so much waiting to happen it can leave you feeling a tad impatient. It's not totally a bad thing, because it means you are really drawn into the book and you really care about the characters, whether you like or hate them.
This book is not for the squeamish or particularly sensitive amongst us. The descriptions of crime scenes are brutally honest and sometimes gory. With terror attacks, at times I found it quite insensitive, especially when we think of the terrible things happening in the world today and those of us affected. The author is very matter-of-fact about these things. It is perhaps a good thing that we are aware, and not cotton-coated about this incidents, the truth is important, people want to know what really happens in the world and it reminds us how seriously to take these things. Perhaps it's just me, but I think this could have been done with a bit more subtlety and thought for victims, survivors and relatives of real life incidents.
Jardine does use swearing, which admittedly reflects today's society quite well, but personally I am not sure it is needed and still think it spoils the story. The language is at times quite crude and unpleasant, which again, may offend the more sensitive reader.
The other thing I personally disapprove of and very much dislike is a blatant overuse of sexual images, although generally brief or vaguely described, my personal opinion is that they are not needed and will put off a lot of people. I guess this book is more designed for the young male audience, or at least the very liberal minded. That is all I will say on that, as I don't want to delve into a discussion of morals!
On the upside, the language and the way he writes is at least very easy to follow and whilst it takes time to make sense of how people interrelate and what's going on, you don't feel like you are ploughing through a giant marshmallow with a tiny plastic spoon.
I did enjoy this book, it moves at a steady pace but keeps you anticipating the next moves of the 'terrorists', the media, the public and of course the police. It reads much like a detective drama series, which is perfect for someone with a vivid imagination. It is fairly comparable to those detective series that come on at around 9pm, and in fact Time Out (one the back of my copy) comment on this. I guess it's also worth noting it is a healthier alternative to watching television and encourages you more to use your own imagination when reading.
Review also on Ciao