Thursday, 13 April 2017
DAVID JACKSON - HOPE TO DIE (2017)
The gripping new serial killer thriller, from the runaway bestselling author of CRY BABY. Perfect for fans of Mark Billingham and Peter James.
On a bitterly cold winter's night, Liverpool is left stunned by a brutal murder in the grounds of the city's Anglican Cathedral. A killer is on the loose, driven by a chilling rage.
Put on the case, DS Nathan Cody is quickly stumped. Wherever he digs, the victim seems to be almost angelic - no-one has a bad word to say, let alone a motive for such a violent murder.
And Cody has other things on his mind too. The ghosts of his past are coming ever closer, and - still bearing the physical and mental scars - it's all he can do to hold onto his sanity.
And then the killer strikes again . . .
PRAISE FOR DAVID JACKSON
'Recalls Harlan Coben though for my money Jackson is the better writer' Guardian
Hope to Die is the author's sixth book and the second with DS Nathan Cody. Last year's Tapping at My Door was the first outing for his Merseyside detective.
I don't read many police procedurals although I have plenty of opportunity to with a fair few on the shelves to choose from.....Rebus, Resnick, Dalziel and Pascoe - to mention a few. If they are as enjoyable as this one, I may need to tweak the balance of my reading to include more. I read this one quite quickly over three days, mostly at a weekend.
Our book opens with a baffling murder at the protestant cathedral in Liverpool and soon escalates when there is a follow-up at the catholic cathedral in the town. The first victim is apparently without enemies - a single woman, a teacher, quite religious but no real skeletons in her closet that Cody and his colleagues can uncover. Our second victim is a prostitute, but still without any real enemies.
I liked the dynamics of Cody's team. He has a boss, DCI Blunt who seems to indulge him more than her other detectives though she has an impatience for results. As the book unfolds we spend a lot of time with Cody and learn of his past. In a previous case (though I don't know if it was the previous book or if this facet is just an over-riding Cody story arc), he was tortured by a gang and witnessed his work partner killed. This gang continue to haunt him, in his dreams, scrub that - call them nightmares and during his waking moments.......baffling phone calls, silent one minute then a recording of his torture played back to him. Cody is single, having split from his fiancee and he shuts everyone out. Blunt keeps an eye on him, aware that his mental state may be less than prefect but with no concrete grounds for intervention.
Megan Webley is another part of Cody's team and we have a lot of sparks between the two. Webley was a girlfriend years ago, but she is now engaged to someone else. Cody previously took her into his confidence over his trauma, but now regrets it. Megan was injured on a previous case they worked together and is just back at work after a period of absence. Cody has shut her out, which hurts. She cares for him but he's a cold fish now. He's unwilling to open up and make himself vulnerable again.
There's a third member who also comes to prominence in the book - Grace Meade, a civilian working with the police as a computer technician - proper job description escapes me. Grace is interesting - a single woman, severely lacking in confidence - invisible and a professional wallflower, though she struggles not to be. If I read any future books in this series, (and I hope there will be some), I'll be interested to see how Grace evolves.
Back to our case - a third murder occurs and the dots start connecting, mainly thanks to a bit of technical wizardry from Meade. Clever reader that I am, I was sure several times who our guilty party was, but the author was much smarter than I am - if you can believe that. I got it wrong.
Satisfying conclusion, to our murder cases and a bit of an escalation in Cody's secret battle with his former torturers which bodes well for future books. Lots to like - fast-paced, plenty of banter between our detectives and some interesting characters, each offering flesh to the bones. Jackson achieves a nice balance here between the case and the personal stuff. I enjoyed the Liverpool setting as well.
4.5 from 5
David Jackson has his website here. He's on Twitter - @Author_Dave
Read in April, 2017
Published - 2017
Page count - 416
Source - review copy from publisher (cheers to Emily at Bonnier Zaffre)
Format - hardback