A few weeks ago I went to a Jumble Sale down at my local community Hall. And despite having been to many Car Boot I had never been to an official jumble sale. I was impressed at both the variety and the quality of goods on sale. Luckily there were a few stalls selling books and whilst browsing I found this one which took my fancy and at only 50p for a good quality book that looked new I thought I couldn't go too far wrong.
==About the author:==
Steve Mosby is a writer who lives and works in Leeds. His first novel was written in 2003 and since then he has written an additional four books with one due for Publication in 2011. The book I am about to review was his third and written in 2007.
He tends to write suspense thrillers and so far his books have been very highly acclaimed.
==Synopsis of the book:==
It is Mark Nelson's first day working in John Mercer's team of Detectives. Mercer is a popular and well-known Detective having been involved in high profile cases and written books on his teams work. However this man has suffered a breakdown following one of his men being murdered by a criminal known as the 50/50 killer two years ago.
Now Nelson finds himself immediately involved in a murder investigation as a man is found having been tortured and ultimately killed with the 50/50 killers spiders web found at his flat he was so brutally killed in. All the signs are that after two years break this evil killer has resumed his activities and all those around Mercer are worried that in trying to catch this killer he will suffer another breakdown and miss or fail to spot an opportunity to catch him or her.
Nelson must hit the ground running and while Mercer's Team start their investigation he must catch up on all the crimes he/she is believed to have committed. This evil killer is intelligent, thorough and believes in carefully researching his victims. So that he only leaves the clues that he wants and all his prints are cleared away. In the past the victims have always been part of a couple and Nelson's team must find the other involved party or parties before they are brutally tortured and possibly killed as well.
==My thoughts on the novel:==
My overall opinion on this piece of Detective fiction was it was an excellent read. I found it well written, with a fabulous story behind it and to be honest I find it quite hard to fault it, which is very rare for me. I love a good detective story and this was right up my street and it was full of surprises and even it the end continued to impress me.
Recently I have really struggled to get into fictional books, in the last few weeks I have picked up several and because I did not find the story or the writing style appealing I gave up on them. And I was afraid this was going to be the same on this occasion. My reason for thinking that was this was an unfamiliar author to me and I very often struggle to appreciate a new writer in the first book I read from him or her. It usually takes at least until the second one for me to really like their work and their characters that they create. However this was not the case I found I immediate took to this author's work.
When I first looked at the cover of this novel I very nearly put it back down again. The reason for this was I didn't like the title, I thought it sounded quite cheap and tacky, especially with the heart broken in to on the cover. But I'm very glad I didn't!! Instead I turned the book over to see what it was all about. The summary was two paragraphs long, which I always think is the minimum it should be to set the scene for the story.
This summary however was very good. I liked the concept of this new Detective joining a successful and high profile team, I immediately took to the idea and it felt like we were two newbies together. I liked the idea of this young Detective being thrown in the deep end and coming up against an unusual serial killer. The summary had just the right level of detail to draw me into the story and encourage me to purchase the book. And looking back on it now it really only told the reader a fraction of the book and really gave very little away. There was even praise for this book by a couple of reviewers which impressed me as I usually find they are praising the author's work in general not the book I am about to read.
However all my old displeasure at this was brought to the surface as on the opening page of the book their was a full page of praise for the author's work in general. And even though I had never read one of his books I did not see how this would help me enjoy this particular book.
Despite this I was very keen to start reading the story and it began in an excellent way! A prologue!! And not only a prologue but also a decent size one at that. 6 pages that took you back to the death of one of John Mercer's team at the hands of the 50/50 killer. I thought this really set the scene well as it made me very curious as firstly what had happened previously and Secondly what effect this would have on what I was about to read. It is probably the best prologue I have ever read because I knew from reading that I would enjoy the book and not be able to put it down.
The story then began and focused initially on Mark Nelson's first day in his new job working as a Detective for Mercer. It was a gentle introduction but it shared a lot of detail about this young man's life and I found it easy to like and relate to this man. The only thing initially I found odd was each new section within a chapter had a date, a time and the number of hours till dawn. Although as the story developed I was to see why this was important initially I thought it was unnecessary.
Although as the story started to develop I was pleased it did not just focus on one character, it brought in a number and allowed you to see things from their perspective and see what and why they were thinking the way they were. And so you never got lost when the story moved from character to character before the start of it, the author put the characters name and I found this worked really well for me.
It was the depth of the author's writing that really struck me, he was observant and seemed to climb into each characters personality. The level of detail was really impressive and I always felt I was in the room with the various characters because of this. The only time it confused me was when the author used dreams because he used the same detail to describe these and for me anyway dreams are always confusing and seem to lack detail. I felt the writer overplayed the concept of dreams as quite often they were not adding anything to the story merely reinforcing what you already knew.
For the first half of the book I thought the story went in the direction I expected. It was only then that the author started to change the script and bring in some very unexpected twists and turns that I thought were excellent as they all made sense and turned a lot of what you knew on its head. I found it an absorbing story because it was so cleverly crafted with the further I read the less I felt I knew what would happen next and although I always hoped for the best and a solution I had no idea what way the author would go with the story.
I found the pace of the story to be very fast and I think that was added by the author reminding you how little time had elapsed since the previous chapter. With so many ideas and concepts to absorb your mind I was never sure what the correct solution would be although I always suspected that Mark Nelson would solve the mystery. There where different possibilities and although it at times seemed clear cut, it was far cleverer and more complex than I ever imagined it.
The last thing that impressed me about the story was at the end of the conclusion an epilogue. And probably in keeping with the rest of the novel an epilogue that was different to what I expected. Even in this although a lot of questions were answered there was still mystery about some of the characters within the story and what would happen to them.
While I thought the story was excellent and well told, I was at least equally impressed with the majority of the characters in the story. I suppose the main one was Mark Nelson, who I immediately liked as he appeared due to his previous experiences quite vulnerable and someone I could both like and relate too. I appreciated his logical mind and the way he tried to get information out those he interviewed.
But he was not my favourite character I really enjoyed learning more about his boss John Mercer. He was so unpredictable and I found I had a real feeling of compassion for him because of his deep desire to catch the 50/50 killer at all costs. I found his relationship and conversations with his wife particularly enlightening and I had a real affection for him.
Although what really made this book for me was the brilliance of the killer. Too often do Detective stories have inadequate killers, so that the Detectives job is far too easy. Although the 50/50 killer was evil and vile, I did appreciate what a clever intelligent and thought the killer used. I liked the fact that everything was so cleverly devised so that they were far ahead of the Police's thinking and I really made them work and look at the work they were doing differently.
The book was full of suspense from the first page to practically the last. Although I read many detective thrillers I was constantly on the edge of my seat with this one. As I had so much empathy with the characters I was desperate for the Police to be successful, knowing what an evil killer they were dealing with.
The length of the novel was just right to tell a completely absorbing and thought provoking story. I say this because it was so intelligently written it really made me think about what was happening, what the solution could be and every little clue I could extract from what I was being told.
For me this was a First Class Detective story and one I would definitely recommend. It was the culmination of so many factors that made this excellent, the absorbing and well thought out story, the wonderful characters the author created and the brilliance of the 50/50 killer really stuck out for me. I certainly will be looking to read more work from of this showing a fabulous author.
Publisher: Orion Books
About the author: www.theleftroom.co.uk
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
© CPTDANIELS October 2011