Review: Ashes to Ashes by Paul Finch @paulfinchauthor

ATAThe Official Book Blurb

John Sagan is a forgettable man. You could pass him in the street and not realise he’s there. But then, that’s why he’s so dangerous.

A torturer for hire, Sagan has terrorised – and mutilated – countless victims. And now he’s on the move. DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg must chase the trail, even when it leads him to his hometown of Bradburn – a place he never thought he’d set foot in again.

But Sagan isn’t the only problem. Bradburn is being terrorised by a lone killer who burns his victims to death. And with the victims chosen at random, no-one knows who will be next. Least of all Heck…

Do you ever get the feeling that you have been a complete and utter donkey? Astoundingly, incomprehensibly stupid? That’s is exactly how I felt when listening to the audio book of Ashes To Ashes when I was left wondering how I have managed to let this series pass me by for so long. I have heard other people raving about it before, bloggers that I trust and respect, but I’ve never got around to reading any of the books until now. This is book 6 in the series about Detective Sergeant Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg but I think that in just one book I have fallen in love with this character and now I am desperately trying to work out how I can go about finding time to go back and read books 1-5.

Like I said. A complete and utter donkey.

So. Enough about my stupidity. What about the book? Well this is quite some book. When Heck and the team are put onto the trail of suspected serial killer known torturer John Sagan, they can only guess as to the level of evil and depravity the man is capable of. To the cost of one of the team they find out just how dangerous underestimating this man is. When he evades capture they are soon able to tie him to two torture murders in Heck’s home town of Bradburn but returning there to capture their target is not going to be easy for Heck as he has a very troubling relationship with the place he once called home. And when another series of grizzly murders starts to take place in the town Heck is to find himself up against a merciless killer that the press have given the moniker ‘The Incincerator’ due to the method he uses to dispatch his victims. Throw in a burgeoning gang war and the scene is set for a deadly showdown.

From the very beginning of this novel the tension is high and the pacing fast and to be honest there are few moments throughout where it ever lets up. Paul Finch sets the scene brilliantly, an underlying sense of menace in even the simplest of actions. From the moment the first two victims are faced with ‘The Incinerator’ you get a taste of what this book is going to be about. The deaths may be violent but none are unnecessarily graphic. the same can be said of the torture inflicted by John Sagan. You are not forced to act as voyeur to the acts of violence but you are left in no doubt as to the severity of what has happened or the cold and calculating nature of the man himself. Even though interactions with Sagan are limited, Finch has created a really unsettling character and the knowledge that he and his pain box are still on the loose, and an understanding of what he is capable of, is enough to creating an underlying and gradually building tension from start to finish.

More intriguing is the character of The Incinerator. You never quite know who this person is and I found myself continually second guessing their motives for the killings. He/She? You are never quite sure as suspicion falls to the gangs of Ship and Shaughnessy, each with their own motives for killing the other in order to gain control of the streets. And suspicion also falls to someone outside the gangs, someone with a personal reason to hate Vic Ship and all he stands for. So is this a simple case of gang warfare or vigilantism taken to the extreme Well… You need to read to find out, don’t you.

The investigative team in this book are all really well developed and strong characters in their own right. Joining the usual SCU crew is DI Katie Hayes of the GMP Serious Crime Division. She is a fantastic character and more than a match for Heck when they are partnered together to investigate The Incinerator. As for Heck. He certainly has a way about him. Often acting outside of procedure and regularly taking on the lone wolf role, you cannot help but like his occasionally gung ho methods. He certainly gets results, even if he does put himself in the firing line to do so. You learn a lot about his past in this book, get a good appreciation of why he joined the force, and the demons that haunt him on his return to Bradburn. He is exactly the kind of character I eat up. I love his fire and his passion for the job. He acts on his instincts, speaks his mind, but all in the name of upholding the law and catching two very violent killers. When his passion boils over, the results can be deadly. Love it.

There are a few really tense and intensive scenes in this book, firstly when Heck is chasing down John Sagan, when he nearly has the sadistic killer in his grasp, and secondly when Heck himself is being pursued by one of the gangs controlling the streets of Bradburn. If you don’t like to see animals get hurt, then you might not like one particular part of the book, but then again, we aren’t exactly talking about kicking the behind of the Andrex puppy here, so while the result may make you cringe, the end probably justifies the means. Think less St Bernard in Beethoven and more Doberman in The Omen. Nasty little poochie.

If you like a good strong lead character, an exciting story and the thrill of a darned good cat and mouse game then definitely read this book. I am off now to go and purchase books 1-5 and then to plan in a good few days to catch up. By the way, I actually listened to the audio book which is absolutely superb and well worth a listen if, like me, you enjoy taking your books to go.

A hot to trot 5 stars from me.


Ashes to Ashes is available to purchase now from the following retailers (pre-order for USA).

Amazon UK | | Kobo | Waterstones

My thanks also to publishers Harper Collins UK, Avon and Netgalley for an advance copy of this book. If you would like to check out the other books by Paul Finch, then you can find them on his website or Amazon Author page.

Website | Amazon


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