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by A.D. Garrett
C & R Crime, June 2013
432 pages
18.99 GBP
ISBN: 1780339798

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Five years ago, promising young detective Kate Simms risked her career to help her colleague, Dr Nick Fennimore, forensic scientist with the National Crime Faculty, when his wife and daughter disappeared. Now she has finally made it back into CID, moved to Manchester and obtained her promotion to Chief Inspector. She is assigned to investigate a peak in heroin deaths over the last few months and she is under pressure to write a routine report until a celebrity dies and she is suddenly pushed into the limelight. The local forensic specialist is still convinced the deaths are nothing more than a statistical blip, but Simms is not so sure and so she calls Fennimore, now working at a university in Aberdeen, to ask for help. Together, they establish that the deaths are caused by an allergic reaction to the penicillin used to cut the drug and when a dealer is arrested and confesses to selling the drugs, it seems that the case is solved.

Then another body turns up; a girl, tortured, beaten beyond recognition, dumped in an alley and injected with the same batch of heroin, but not an addict. The owner of a local newly-opened "massage parlour" is the prime suspect until Fennimore notices an unusual pattern of injuries that reminds him of a previous case. Simms's superiors want her to charge the suspect and close the case, but following the injury pattern lead takes her and Fennimore across the country as they unearth a serial killer with a taste for S & M and victims who are unlikely even to be missed.

This book is set in the seamy underworld of prostitution and drug dealing. It does nothing to glamorise either and it has a realistic view of the routine nature of most police work. The casual acceptance of violence as a normal way of life is gritty, in places almost too gritty and not for those with a delicate stomach. Most of the characters, though, are well drawn and believable, from Spry, the budget-obsessed Superintendent to Candy, the heroin-addicted prostitute and mother of three children. The plot is complex and there are several threads of back story, not all completely explained, that maintain interest to the last page. There is obvious scope for more books exploring the relationship between Simms and Fennimore. And questions are left unanswered such as the identity of the mysterious Josh Brown and whether Will Fennimore will ever find his missing daughter. This all amounts to a good read, and I hope it will not be the last from this author.

Sylvia Maughan is a retired university lecturer, based in Bristol.

Reviewed by Sylvia Wilson, July 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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