I was so excited to be approved to read Play Dead on NetGalley as each of Angela Marsons’ previous three books had me absolutely hooked, and each got awarded the full five stars. After the excitement came the slight apprehension, after all the first three had come swiftly on the heels of each other with the author releasing all three between February and November last year, would this book live up to those? The answer is a resounding yes, if anything this one was even better!
I thought I’d read what I’d written about those before writing this review so that I didn’t sound repetitive, but I’m afraid that simply won’t be possible because what I loved about this book is exactly what made the others so wonderful, but I’ll try…
The story opens with a prologue set in 1996 which haunted me throughout the book, even more so as we hear from the same narrator sporadically whilst we are watching Detective Kim Stone investigate. This investigation is on a site more unusual than most, a body farm in the DI’s native Black Country. Westerley research facility is for the scientists whose work in entomology and the like to help define the time of death of bodies left exposed to the open air and Kim Stone and her partner Bryant were visiting to be educated when a body is found. And so we’re out of the traps with a fresh body, one not chosen by the resident scientists, and it is not long before this is joined by a cold case that Kim Stone has picked up along the way! In boths cases just finding out who the victim was is the first step in a marathon.
Kim Stone is exactly my kind of protagonist; she is damaged by her past but about as far from a victim as you can get. She’s complex, not overly friendly to anyone much and yet she has the respect of her officers, and me. In this case she uses her sharp intellect as she gets to work with the unusual crime scene and follows her intuition to get her first link to the killer. But don’t worry, even this sharp cookie doesn’t own a crystal ball, so the twists and turns hold the interest at optimum level. Angela Marsons really does manage the pace exceptionally well, there is definitely no dropping off in the middle of these books, and yet she still manages to accelerate towards the end so that you really do get that edge of the seat sensation.
One thing that draws me to crime fiction is the understanding of why the perpetrators act the way they do and in this novel the why as well as the who is put together in pieces so it is far too easy to jump to one conclusion, only to find out that maybe the answer is something quite different indeed. But it isn’t just the perpetrator that gets this treatment, all of the characters are exceptionally realistic, and we get to see behind the scenes of these too. In Play Dead we get a little insight into Kim Stone’s nemesis, Tracey Frost the local reporter.
So once again we have a fantastic plot, equally full of interest and absolute horror, complex and engaging characters from the most minimal dinner lady to the chief protagonists and enough adrenaline to fire up that fight of flight reaction – or in my case rooted to the chair reading frantically to find out how on earth it was all going to end. I love books that sprinkle enough clues to allow me to have a go with my poor investigative skills and in this instance I did have some parts right but there were plenty of aspects to make the finale a compelling read.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Bookouture not only for allowing me to read Play Dead for review purposes but also for choosing such a talented author to publish and allowing us all to enjoy a fantastic series, one that is now a definite ‘must-read.’ This review is my thank you to them ahead of publication on 20 May 2016.
Previous Books featuring Kim Stone
If you are a lover of contemporary crime fiction, I really can’t recommend this series highly enough.