So having read the first and the third in this series and even those two in the wrong order I was interested to see what DS Aector McAvoy had to offer in this, his fifth outing. I wasn’t disappointed.
The book opens with Aector on a family picnic, although he’s not fooling his wife Roisin who knows that he is trying to find the body of a girl who has been missing for nine months, an unsolved case that preoccupies him. But, life as a policeman never allows him to relax for long and no sooner have they eaten their sandwiches when a call comes in about a murdered girl.
What I particularly enjoyed with this novel was the multiple strands. A missing persons investigation and a murder would be enough for most crime writers to handle, but no we also have Reuben Hollow who has been released from prison, put away by Aector’s boss, Trish Pharaoh, on what appears to be false evidence, and who is now political dynamite as a result. With Pharaoh looking as if she is going to be hung out to dry Aector’s natural protective instinct goes into overdrive, but his boss seems to be changing; still feisty but drinking far too much and behaving secretively, he’s not quite sure what she wants from him anymore.
As in many police procedurals there are plenty of politics and rivalry between the teams as to who gets the ‘best’ cases although within the Special Investigation team things are relatively settled, just as well because the investigation into the murder is complex with leads taking them all in many different directions, none of them particularly good!
This was an engaging read and although Aector still comes across as a little too good to be true,, it makes a nice change from the gruff surly policemen that often inhabit this genre. I warmed far more to Trish Pharaoh in this book perhaps because we got to view her home life in a bit more detail and so I appreciated more of what made the core of the woman, and which aspects of her character she has capitalised to get on, both in her career and life in general. It was interesting to see some rivalry between her and Roisin, both women adore Aector and with one his wife and the other his boss, you have to wonder quite what is going to happen next.
One thing is for certain is that this is not a gentle read, the complexities of the plot coupled with the smart pace alone keeps the tension high from page to page and there are some fairly gruesome scenes. I thought I was fairly shock-proof but this book made me wince more than once along the way! I’m also not sure what whoever is in charge of Hull’s tourism thinks, as the descriptions of the city are less than flattering but there is nothing like a grim backdrop to set the scene for a disturbing crime!
I’d like to thank the publishers Hodder & Stoughton for allowing me to read a review copy of this book ahead of publication on 28 January 2016. I’m now well and truly motivated to read the missing episodes before book six gets published (sorry for those of you who think this is completely the wrong way to manage a series!)
DS Aector McAvoy series