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Reviews

November 2012

Ian Rankin - Standing In Another Man's Grave

"Reading the new Rebus was like settling under a soft, beloved blanket albeit one with sharp nails sewn in to it. "

Synopsis:
Rebus is back. He is employed in the Serious Crime Review Unit, working as a civilian looking at cold cases, although his particular unit is at threat of being merged into a larger co-ordinated group. He is glad to be back investigating crime but is no better at tolerating officiousness and ambition in his fellows. He even has a desire to return to detecting now that the official retirement age has changed. Rebus has a burning passion to see the criminal brought to account for his crimes, and is happy to allow a little deviation from the accepted rules.

Rebus is contacted by the mother of a girl missing for twelve years. She is convinced that her disappearance is linked to several other cases and has been in contact with the police over the years. As another girl has gone missing in the previous few days Rebus links up with his old colleague, Siobhan Clarke, to see if there is any connection. Siobhan, now Detective Inspector works well with her old boss, but there is a very different relationship between the two. She is the boss but Rebus can't help making suggestions.

The link between the various disappearances seems to be the A9, the road heading up towards Inverness. Rebus starts contacting those involved in the previous disappearances, collecting past files and making use of his contacts in Edinburgh's underworld, all without official sanctions or knowledge. Rebus soon comes under the scrutiny of Malcolm Fox in the Complaints department. Rebus' maverick ways do not go down well with the meticulous Fox. When Rebus comes up with some useful leads he finds himself assigned on a temporary basis to work with Siobhan. Together they track down the victims and solve the disappearances, although not all were as expected.

Review:
It is a great pleasure to meet Rebus again, essentially the same man, older but certainly not wiser. Rankin superbly shows Rebus dealing with the frustrations of retirement but basically Rebus just wants to be back on the job where he feels more alive. Rankin placing his main character in the cold case unit is only a stepping stone and sure enough Rebus is back investigating but officially hamstrung by reporting to a serving policeman for whom he has no respect.

In this new novel Rebus is at his best: determined, cussed, no respecter of persons, but doggedly determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. Rankin has cleverly aged his main characters. It is now five years since Rebus retired and everyone has moved on. Malcolm Fox, Rankin's new character, inevitably comes into conflict with Rebus. Rankin expertly portrays the precision and adherence to the letter of police procedure exhibited by Fox as he clashes with Rebus' determination to get results. Both sides have their supporters within the Force.

Reading the new Rebus was like settling under a soft, beloved blanket albeit one with sharp nails sewn in to it. Despite Rebus' welcome return some parts of the book do make for uncomfortable yet addictive reading as is the case when Rankin and Rebus roll along with each other. But that is the reason why Rankin's books appeal to millions of readers. I do hope that the pragmatic support for Rebus' success in catching criminals will win out and we will see him back again very soon as a working detective. Superb.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Russell D. McLean - Father Confessor

"I found ‘Father Confessor’ to be a dark, gritty and moralistic novel..."

Synopsis:
DCI Ernie Bright is dead but was he a good cop gone bad? Not everyone believes the long serving Tayside detective was leading a double life. One of those looking to exonerate him is former protégé turned private investigator J McNee.

McNee has his own reasons for proving Bright's innocence, but as the evidence against him accumulates he makes enemies on both sides of the law. As McNee's investigations progress he learns that justice and the law are not necessarily the same thing and that bad decisions can be made by good people.

Review:
This is the third book from McLean featuring McNee and the first I have read from this author and if 'Father Confessor' is anything to go by then the first two will be belters. Told mainly in the first person from McNee's perspective with flashbacks Mclean uses the story to explore the impact crime has on the Bright family and the lead protagonist himself.

A typically tartan noir tale has the lead battling his past while dealing with the present. Echoes from the past are what makes McNee such a compelling character yet the nefarious Burns and Ernie Bright provide a strong supporting cast. The greatest strength of McLean's writing for me though was the beautiful way he detailed the nuances of character interaction. He could make a list of household jobs a better read than many of the so called literary novels.

The plot is not complicated but the way the story is told with the broken timeline means the reader needs to pay close attention. The pace ramps as the tale progresses until the final stand off. I found 'Father Confessor' to be a dark, gritty and moralistic novel which will not only entertain the reader but also make them ask questions of their own views on justice.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Matt Hilton - Dead Fall

"...a blistering tale of revenge and retribution which was devoured in one bite"

Synopsis:
Joe Hunter avenges the murder of two people: William Murray, a small-time crook, and Candice Berry, a hooker, by tricking their killer. In this short story you see Joe Hunter at his most cunning as he plots revenge in a most unusual way.

Review:
Regular readers will know what a big fan of Hunter and Hilton I am. This does not mean I show them any favouritism. The truth is actually the opposite as I expect them both to find new ways of entertaining me and other fans. Hilton has drawn his hero back in this short story and given him a real detective style case as he tracks down the killer of his friends. Sure he guesses who is behind it but first he must find some proof.

What ensues is a blistering tale of revenge and retribution which was devoured in one bite. It was a joy to see Hunter use his intelligence more than usual to find the necessary proof, which just proves that the author is constantly improving and tweaking his hero.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Michael Robotham - Say You're Sorry

"...this is a great read that is not to be missed."

Synopsis:
When best friends Piper and Tash disappear one Sunday morning, the investigation captivates a nation but the teenage girls are never found.

Three years later, during the worst blizzard in a century, a husband and wife are brutally killed in the farmhouse where Tash McBain once lived. A suspect is in custody, a troubled young man who can hear voices and claims that he saw a girl that night being chased by a snowman.

Convinced that Piper or Tash might still be alive, clinical psychologist Joe O'Loughlin persuades police to reopen the investigation, but the closer he gets to the truth, the more dangerous it becomes. One girl is counting on them and she's running for her life.

Review:
Robotham returns with an excellent book. 'Say You're Sorry' follows two young girls that have been missing for three years, and the investigation into their disappearance. The novel is written both from the perspective of Joe O'Laughlin, a clinical psychologist who is assisting the police, but also from that of one of the missing girls in diary form. The diary entries show the events as experienced by the victims. Most crime novels are not written in this way, and I find that, if done well (which Robotham does), it really brings the victims to life and adds more dimensions to them.

There are plenty of characters who could be the kidnapper and Robotham gives plenty of clues for each possibility. However, the guilty person is discovered, though I was a little disappointed with the motive. Besides that slight niggle, I would recommend 'Say You're Sorry' as this is an excellent book that I found unable to put down. Well written with believable characters, this is a great read that is not to be missed.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Stella Rimington - The Geneva Trap

"Rimington’s books are in their own right an excellent addition to the body of spy stories."

Synopsis:
It is Geneva. MI6's Head of Station is playing tennis with a colleague when he is approached by a mysterious Russian with the message 'I want to talk to Lees Carlisle'.

As a result Liz Carlyle, senior officer of MI5 travels to Geneva to meet with Russian agent, Alexander Sorsky. She had met him when she was an undergraduate and there was a certain rapport between them. He tells her that there is a third country's intervention in a top secret project run by the British and Americans and the mole is based in the British side of the project developing the encryption of the controls for the unmanned drones operated from the USA. He is concerned that the outcome would be devastating for the world.

In Nevada the development of the drones is hit by erratic behaviour on the part of the machines. The main concern is that the old enemy, Russia, is involved in destroying the project. In London the search for the mole is urgent and all suspects seem to have perfect security clearance. As the search becomes more intense Liz's own family become entangled in the story and the pace quickens as the plot moves between Marseille and Geneva before ending in France in an exciting finale.

Review:
This is another exciting and fast-moving spy story from Stella Rimington. 'The Geneva Trap' totally engrossed me and it is one of those books that I finished so quickly simply because I couldn't put it down.

The added bonus is that the details of how MI5 works are (I assume) absolutely genuine and accurate, although I presume there is a lot left out for reasons of security. However, the overall feeling is that you are learning something new about how we are protected by the Security services.

Liz Carlyle is an interesting and attractive character and on this occasion her relatives seem to be equally able to cope in an emergency. Rimington's books are in their own right an excellent addition to the body of spy stories.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Guy Adams - Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Dr. Moreau

"...I found that the overall style put pictures in my head in a way that was reminiscent of ‘steampunk’."

Synopsis:
After a referral via Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock and Dr. Watson follow the trail of several corpses seemingly killed by various wild animals, but which they know are likely to be some experiments of Doctor Moreau, who had once been creating animal hybrids through vivisection and crude genetic engineering. He was determined to prove the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin, until his experiments came to the public eye and, shamed, he disappeared.

Now there is evidence he is back and Holmes and Watson track down suspects through the opium dens of Rotherhithe and the docks. Here they find an army of beast men, led by a man willing to make the world pay attention using his creatures as a force to gain control of the Government.

Review:
'The Army of Doctor Moreau' is not a traditional Homes story, nor does it really set out to be, although it does follow the basis of Conan-Doyle's books. It has been a while since I actually read one of the originals and so I am not fully sure how much of the original style was there, especially as I had the voice of Jeremy Brett for Holmes and Martin Freeman for Watson stuck in my head throughout. An unlikely and unusual combination that actually gave a snarky humour to the story, which in itself was quite different from anything you would expect of a Holmes novel.

This is actually a supernatural tale that also pulls in characters belonging to HG Wells, Edgar Rice Burrows and others from Conan Doyle's work and doesn't pretend to be anything other that what it is; fantasy with a taste of Holmes and a certain amount of tongue in cheek. For that reason I suspect those who are purists when it comes to Holmes will throw up their hands in horror, but I enjoyed it.

The pace is good and the plot is easily followed through the varying twists and turns. Characters are well written (albeit not perhaps in the traditional style expected) and I found that the overall style put pictures in my head in a way that was reminiscent of 'steampunk'. This will not be for everyone, but if you like the supernatural with some black humour, this is a fun read.

Reviewed by: K.L.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Tanya Byrne - Heart-Shaped Bruise

"...with a lightness of touch addresses issues about teenagers and their need for ‘identity’."

Synopsis:
With the closure of Archway Young Offenders Institution a notebook is found in one of the rooms. It is the diary of Emily Koll, a young woman who is awaiting trial for a crime she committed. There is no doubt of her guilt, but Emily wants to explain the reason why. How she got to such a situation and how something that appeared so straight forward became so complicated.

She was only going to get revenge on Juliet, the teenager who stabbed Emily's father while he was in the throes of killing Juliet's father. Now one is dead and the other is serving time. And Emily feels she wants to balance the scales, to pay Juliet back for sending her father to prison. When Emily finds where Juliet lives and her new identity Emily inveigles her way in to Juliet's life to take something away from her just as Juliet took something from Emily. But nothing is as simple as it seems as emotions get in the way and distort Emily's reason.

Review:
I picked up this book expecting not to enjoy it as it doesn't seem to appeal to the male reader. This title has been 'sold' as a 'Young Adult' novel – and I think that has restricted this novel as it could so easily be enjoyed by adults. I know I did and I don't think that I could be classed as the target demographic! However, I was very quickly swept up by the punchy prose and intrigued as to where this 'diary' of Emily Koll would lead me. Once you understand that Emily is also 'Rose' and that Juliet has been transformed in to 'Nancy' under the Witness Protection Programme' this rapidly becomes a novel that is hard to stop and has the potential to call for your attention when other matters in life (work, etc) get in the way of serious reading.

Byrne's debut is not a 'deep' novel but with a lightness of touch addresses issues about teenagers and their need for 'identity'. Emily (Rose) is bent on making Juliet (Nancy) pay for what she did to her father but the cuts go deeper than that. By the end of this sad tale you realise that Emily's main pain is from the uncertainty of her past, of knowing truth and lie. I am not giving the plot away but Byrne subtly peels back the layers and highlights teenage angst in a spellbinding tale that can appeal to both sexes. The solution isn't particularly mind-blowing, but the journey there is certainly one I would advise readers to take.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Catriona McPherson - Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses

"...reminiscent of those golden greats Dorothy L. Sayers and Gladys Mitchell. "

Synopsis:
As a child Dandy Gilver, owner of the Private Detective Agency Gilver and Osborne, spent some time in her childhood with the Lipscott family. She has fond memories of a golden life with the three girls and their adoring “Mamma Dearest”. When two of the Lipscott sisters engage her services to look out for Fleur, the youngest sister, who is teaching in a small school in a remote Scottish village, she accepts.

Her fellow detective Alec Osborne is not so keen on passing time at a girls' boarding school but goes along with Dandy on the condition that he remains in the village. When Dandy arrives at the school, the French teacher has disappeared and Dandy finds herself press-ganged into joining the staff. She manages to entertain the girls quite well although not convincing some other members of staff. What she finds is a very curious school indeed. The Headmistress has some very strange ideas on education and several mistresses have disappeared from the school in hurried circumstances.

She meets up with Fleur who acts very strangely and demands that she is left alone, before finally admitting she has killed four people. Shortly after this, a body of a young woman turns up drowned. Fleur disappears from the school and Dandy ends up taking her place.

Review:
There are two strands to this mystery: what on earth is happening at the school where mistresses are disappearing rapidly, and what does Fleur mean by saying she has killed four people. Dandy and Alec's ingenuity finally solve the problem.

A light hearted and entertaining jaunt around the 1920s with splendid characters steeped in the atmosphere of the time and the cosseted life style of the upper classes. Dandy Gilver is an amusing and self-assured heroine who copes with the inconveniences of dead bodies whilst supported by the wealth and privilege of the Laird's wife. Beautiful descriptions of the lifestyle of the landed classes where it is 'de rigueur' to have a butler and a lady's maid and the sons of the family go away to school at a young age. Dandy however can be very down to earth and is willing to “have a go” at almost any job in the pursuit of her detective work. Always there is a tongue in cheek sense of humour. I have read several in this series and Dandy Gilver is a wonderful, charming heroine and McPherson's series is turning out to be extremely entertaining. This is a marvellously light addition to an already addictive series that is reminiscent of those golden greats Dorothy L. Sayers and Gladys Mitchell.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

John J. Niven - Cold Hands

"‘Cold Hands’ is a page turner..."

Synopsis:
You thought you could leave the past behind. Think again.

Donnie Miller counts himself lucky. Living in a beautiful, spacious house in the wild and remote landscape of central Canada, he spends his days writing for the local newspaper, working on a film script and acting as house-husband. After a troubled and impoverished upbringing in Scotland, he now has all he wants: a caring wife, a bright and happy son, a generous father-in-law. As the brutal northern winter begins to bite, he can sit back and enjoy life.

But his peace is soon broken. There are noises in the nearby woods, signs of some mysterious watcher. When the family dog disappears, Donnie makes a horrifying discovery. Is it wolves, as the police suspect, or something far more dangerous, far darker? What secrets has Donnie been keeping? And why does he have the terrible sense that his dream was never going to last?

Review:
'Cold Hands' is the second book I have read recently that has the same basis as its core premise, but it would spoil the plot if I gave away what that is, which is unfortunate because it was rather essential to how I felt about the book. It would also explain some of my comments in more depth.

Personally I found the last third of the book to be incredulous in places and overly violent. For example, characters survived gun shots, were set on fire and ran in below freezing temperatures whilst bare foot all practically in the same breath and I can't say more about the rampant deaths without spoiling the end. In addition, whilst I could understand the vengeance perspective and the reasons behind the perpetrators focus, they became almost manic and beyond the grounds of believability. That said, it was not all bad and the secret Donnie has kept secret gave meaning and sentiment to the perpetrator and possibly an amount of sympathy in an emotive subject.

'Cold Hands' is a page turner as it slowly builds up and provides twists, turns and suspense before piling into action and the climax, before bringing you slowly down to the end, which is where it all started.

Reviewed by: K.L.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Kathy Reichs - Bones Are Forever

"...to while away those winter evenings, this book definitely delivers."

Synopsis:
Dr Temperance Brennan, forensic pathologist, is called in when the body of a newborn baby is found in an apartment in Montreal. When she arrives at the apartment she finds the remains of two other tiny babies. The woman who lived in the apartment has vanished and when police start looking for her they find a young woman who regularly changes her name and moves around.
Brennan's erstwhile lover, Lieutenant-Detective Andrew Ryan, is also on this case, but is behaving in a very cool and distracted manner.

The trail leads to Edmonton and involves another of Brennan's past romantic encounters, this time a sergeant in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Finally the investigation ends up in Yellowstone, a town in the far north of Canada, where the young woman responsible for the death of the babies is herself found shot dead. Drugs, valuable land claims and greed all have a bearing on the way things turn out and Temperance Brennan is as usual dogged in searching out the truth.

Review:
Kathy Reichs is an expert at both using her insider knowledge of the workings of a forensic pathology service and delivering a fast moving and gripping tale. 'Bones Are Forever' is another instalment in the Brennan series and is well up to the high standard we have come to expect from this author.

I know that some of her recent books have not been enjoyed as much as the early novels, partly because the style had changed and become more frenetic. However, I hope to allay any fears as this book returns to the earlier style and makes for a much better and more entrancing read. My only niggle is the frequent reference to Brennan's i-phone – to me it seemed intrusive and unnecessary product placement. However, as an exciting book to while away those winter evenings, this book definitely delivers.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Barbara Erskine - River of Destiny

"This is another novel from Erskine that brings history to life."

Synopsis:
An Anglo Saxon burial ground that must not be disturbed.A Victorian tragedy of forbidden love and an ancient curse whose power grows ever stronger.

On the banks of the River Deben lies a set of barns dating back to the Anglo Saxons, and within their walls secrets have laid buried for centuries. Zoe and Ken have just moved into one of the barns, ready to start a new life away from the hustle and bustle of the city. To the outside world they seem like an ordinary couple, but underneath they are growing ever more distant by the day. And the strange presence Zoe feels within their home, and the shapes she sees through the cloying mists on the river are getting harder to ignore.

Whilst farmers are ploughing the land surrounding them, human bones are found and when the police arrive it becomes clear that the remains are much older than first suspected. Are they linked to a Victorian tragedy the locals whisper about? And what should they make of the grassy mound which has remained untouched across many centuries, but has now been disturbed with seemingly devastating consequences?

Review:
This is another novel from Erskine that brings history to life. Erskine it seems, has moved from having her present day characters going back in time, and in more recent books has had them as spectators to what was happening. In some ways this, to me, has taken away the guesswork as before each of the present day characters could be matched to their historical counterparts. Erskine's present day female lead tends to be on the downtrodden side, with her partner being domineering.

'River of Destiny' spanned three timelines; present day, Victorian, and Anglo-Saxon, with varied characters from each era. As ever, I find the historical writings of more interest than present day, which can be somewhat predictable. As ever, Erskine delivers an interesting and educational read, but not, in my opinion, on a par with her best, 'Lady of Hay'.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

David Baldacci - The Innocent

"‘The Innocent’ is a first class thriller which will leave you breathless with excitement."

Synopsis:
Returning to Washington after successful missions in Edinburgh and Tangiers, assassin Will Robie sees his latest mission – the assassination of a government employee – go spectacularly wrong. Robie has to go on the run to survive.

Not the only wanted person Robie meets teenage Julie Getty who is devastated by the murder of her parents in the family home. The reasons for their deaths are a mystery, but Julie is clever enough to realise that their killer is also after her.

The police investigating the hit start to pay attention to Robie, particularly Special Agent Nicole Vance, who believes there is a connection between the two cases. Robie finds himself investigating a crime he also committed himself and may have to change sides to save lives, including his own.

Review:
Like Tom Wood and Tom Cain, Baldacci has made a cold blooded assassin a likeable character despite his murderous occupation. Robie is well rounded and moralistic about his trade but never becomes a caricature. His logical prowess also makes him more humane as he is not just a blunt instrument.

Vance and Julie are fine support characters and Blue Man offers an eerie presence. The novel moves along at a steady canter with the odd headlong gallop but overall the pace is nicely handled as reveals leaven the action sequences. The plot is nicely intricate as with all Baldacci novels yet not so convoluted as to be confusing.

In the hands of a bestselling author such as Baldacci prose becomes a tool which is used to advance the tale while not drawing the reader out of the story. It is a testament to the author's skill that never once was I jolted by a loose phrase, careless word or overly elaborate description.

'The Innocent' is a first class thriller which will leave you breathless with excitement.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Donna Leon - The Jewels of Paradise

"The final twist at the end is unexpected and intriguing."

Synopsis:
Caterina Pellegrini is an expert in Baroque music working in the University of Manchester in a very unsatisfying job. When a fellow academic suggests she apply for a post in her beloved home town of Venice she jumps at the chance to return to the beauty and warmth of Italy. The job itself is very strange: two Venetians believe themselves heirs to the Baroque composer, Agostino Steffani. They have in their possession two locked trunks which contain his effects. They want an expert musician, also fluent in several languages, to undertake research into what the trunks contain and to find whether there are any clues leading to a treasure.

The set up in Venice is very mysterious and Caterina is left to use her contacts in the city and her undoubted talents to unlock the clues, as long as she keeps the two heirs and their very smooth lawyer informed.

Review:
This is not an Inspector Brunetti novel and so I miss the warmth of the familiar characters. Caterina is not such an engaging individual. Even Venice also seems less warm and welcoming in this book.

There is a great deal about the Baroque music that is Caterina's passion and that was an interesting backdrop. The research and the path she follows to untwist the plot was fascinating and I particularly liked Caterina's sister, the nun, who is an interesting character.

I do think a break from a long running series must be a refreshing change for the author and I welcome Donna Leon's new book. However, I do hope that Inspector Brunetti will return soon. The final twist at the end is unexpected and intriguing.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

John Connolly and Declan Burke - Books To Die For

"...one of the wonderful books you can flick through and begin to read where the book falls open."

Synopsis:
These two authors have collaborated to bring you a host of crime fiction writers extolling their favourite crime writer and crime novel. With explanations as to why the author has chosen their particular chosen book this is an extensive book that is a dictionary highlighting many authors who are unknown and out of print today. Authors like Val McDermid, Kathy Reichs, Ian Rankin and Linwood Barclay plus many more extol the virtues of Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle, Josephine Tey, Ruth Rendell, P.D. James, Margaret Millar, Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler plus many, many more.

Review:
'Books To Die For' is one of the wonderful books you can flick through and begin to read where the book falls open. Connolly and Burke have gathered a plethora of crime writers from across the globe and asked them a simple question: 'What is your favourite crime novel of all time?' As readers we all have our particular favourite(s). There is always a book that resonates down the years. Some are re-read and others not although we feed on the nostalgia of reading a certain book at a certain time of life. I have re-read many books since the first reading, some I don't want to read in fear of not emulating those same emotions I felt all those years ago. In 'Books To Die For' a number of crime writers have put forth their favourites. Some you will know and some you won't. That is the good thing about books like these, they are a treasure trove where you can find new discoveries and treasures. On Laura Wilson's recommendation alone, (her choice was Patrick Hamilton's 'Hangover Square' which I had heard about but never read) that I now have my own copy and looking forward to reading it.

It is surprising that you think you know everything about crime authors and then you find more that have slipped under the radar. Wonderful, but also a tad frustrating that I have more books to buy and read! I am pleased that my favourite, Margaret Millar is also mentioned with her 1960 novel, 'A Stranger In My Grave'. This isn't my personal favourite of hers, I'd recommend 'Taste of Fears' or 'How Like An Angel', but that is the great thing about these kind of books. They are open to debate. Some authors I like have been missed and some who are mentioned I am not sure if the book chosen is in fact, to my mind at least, their strongest offering. It is all down to personal taste and you can't have everything. 'Books To Die For' is a marvellous tome that will have many crime aficionados salivating and many more reaching for the Internet to find a few out of print gems.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Mark Allen Smith - The Inquisitor

"The plot is strong, the writing style works and it is rather compelling."

Synopsis:
Geiger came to life as an adult man and established himself as an expert in Information Retrieval - torture. Almost devoid of human emotion, he will stop at nothing to get the job done with his methods ranging from the psychologically complex to straightforward brutality. His clients are always referred to him via a third party and his skills are in worldwide demand.

Geiger only has one rule: he will never work on a child.

When a client presents Geiger with a twelve-year-old boy his instinct is to walk away. But the alternative - the unknown horror that may await the boy elsewhere – is not tolerable. In accepting this assignment in an attempt to save the boy, he will also uncover his own history, no matter how torturous that proves to be.

Review:
When I first finished 'The Inquisitor' I really did not know what I was going to say about it, which for me is unusual, and I had to take the time to think. It is, in my opinion, going to be one of those books that you will either love or hate. Firstly because torture is not an easy subject matter and secondly I suspect that people will find it hard to empathise with the main character due to what he is; a Torturer. Plus Geiger is very strange, and I mean strange; totally closed in, cold, non reactive to stimuli, manipulative and appears almost amoral and yet also capable of great depth. The book is almost aloof in its approach which is done to mimic the indifferent closed in world that Geiger lives in. That type of style won't appeal to everyone either.

Personally I didn't find the torture sequences overly graphic or disturbing and felt they fitted within the story, as well as explaining the whole process. The simple yet complex plot leads you through the story of Geiger going against all he's built up because of a personal code you wouldn't have thought he'd have, and his complete breakdown as a result that shatters everything he has become as he remembers his past life.

'The Inquisitor' not only tells a story, but makes you think about where this type of information retrieval is used in real life. It isn't nice, but you can see the reasoning behind it. The characters all worked reasonably well to differing degrees, especially Ezra, although some might find his reactions to the situation to be improbable in places.

As a debut novel, it does have some issues especially with stretching credibility at times – Geiger's resilience at the end in particular - but overall it is not only a different and good read, but one that makes you think. The plot is strong, the writing style works and it is rather compelling.

Reviewed by: K.L.

CrimeSquad Rating: