This is the eighth in the Jack Dylan series written by a duo who were both involved in the police service jointly for forty-seven years, Carol being a member of the Civilian support staff and Bob retiring as a Detective Superintendent of West Yorkshire Police, so you can be sure what you read within these pages is based on knowledge. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t treated to a mystery, we are, but there are no leaps of faith to get to the answers.
The story starts with, where every good crime drama starts, with a body. This is the body of 14-year-old Patti Heinz a budding gymnast. She was found strangled, at home by her stepfather Elliot Black. Of course he becomes an obvious suspect but the police are also aware that Patti’s mother needs support and so he isn’t hauled off with no evidence but the parents are asked to stay elsewhere and assigned a Family Liaison Officer while the necessary post-mortem and forensic tests are carried out.
The murder investigation couldn’t have come at a worse time for Dylan’s wife Jen as having decided to move house she has viewings booked but no husband to view them with her. It doesn’t take long before she finds the one, an old stationmaster’s house, long abandoned and in need of lots of work.
The plot is tightly woven with the number of suspects soon mounting but without the evidence to link the to the murder the team is stuck so they return to the tried and tested methods of detection, getting to know their victim and retracing her steps through her last days. Will this turn up the clue that will crack the case?
With plenty of likeable characters, apart from the numerous sleazy suspects, of course, the team on the investigation are obviously mutually supportive. Although there is banter, it never crosses the line into cruelty and pleasingly the novel doesn’t go overboard on the underpaid and overworked officers jumping through hoops for those higher up the chain, which although I believe there is far more than a modicum of truth in the reality of policing, less if most definitely more for this reader in the politics of policing.
Unlike many police procedurals the focus isn’t as obviously on the victim’s family, perhaps because the death occurred in their house and they have to be considered suspects we don’t get to see the trauma the aftermath of their daughter’s death with the FLO relaying any pertinent details to the rest of the team, at times their loss is quite remote.
I haven’t all the books in this series, no surprises there, so I can confirm that this works well as a standalone although I may have understood more about the mystery of Dylan’s siblings who are introduced from what I can tell for the first time in this book.
On the whole a solid police procedural without the flights of fancy which lends an air of gravitas as it is clear that some of the side plots are examples of what this dedicated pair of authors met during the time they served in the police force.
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC for When a Killer Strikes from the publishers Caffeine Nights Publishing and this unbiased review is my thanks to them and the authors.
Carol provided a post sharing her favourite childhood books which you can read here.