The Official Book Blurb
The headless body of a wealthy widow is discovered decomposing in Chelling Forest. Then a second victim is found. Detective Inspector Lorne Simpkins and her partner, DS Pete Childs are assigned the case.
Before they can discover the identity of the killer they must make a connection between the two victims.
After a third murder, Lorne receives a grisly surprise. Clearly, a vicious serial killer is on a rampage…and Lorne has become the killer’s fixation.Lorne can’t allow her failing marriage or her new boss–a man with whom she shares a sensuous secret–keep her from focusing on her job. She must catch the macabre murderer, or risk becoming the next victim.
Now I will admit that I am late to this series of books. Very, very late. But having won a copy of the audio book of Impeding Justice, the second book in the series, it seemed only fitting to start at the very beginning. I have it on good authority from Julie Andrews that it is a very good place to start. So I purchased the audio book of Cruel Justice too. As it happens, Ms Andrews was absolutely right. It was a cracking place and way to start the series indeed.
Now if you read any of the descriptions of this series of books they are described as being dark. And they are indeed, the opening of this book being quite brutal. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting but at half past four in the morning on one of my many trips up North, it wasn’t this, that was for sure. That said, the violence, while occasionally extreme, is infrequent, and although it was quite explicit in meaning, it didn’t feel graphic or gratuitous in content. But it was still quite the eye opener to say the least and I am a big fan of all that is horrific and squeamish.
From the very off I found myself warming to the characters of Lorne Simpkins and her hapless Sergeant, Pete Childs. They made a really perfect pairing, Lorne’s no nonsense attitude and intuition contrasted against Pete’s more laid back approach and reliance upon cold hard fact. But this case has them stumped and in conflict over the seemingly obvious verses the hidden possibilities which Lorne sees and Pete doesn’t. There are no end of suspects for the old Widow’s murder, starting with her own family, but as more victims turn up with a strikingly similar M.O. then is seems less likely that their first suspect is the real killer.
Lorne faces no end of conflict throughout the story, not only because for whatever reason the killer decides to contact her and try and goad her into catching them. Throw in a husband who is becoming increasingly put out by the demands of Lorne’s job and a new DCI with whom she has a very chequered and compromising past and there are so many things that can distract her from the task in hand. All add to the increasing tension and overall edginess of the book. While I could happily have throttled Lorne’s husband, in some respects I can also understand the attitude and it does tie in with the most common reason for the breakdown in many marriages of officers in the police force. That said, there was little give on Lorne’s part and at times she did come across as selfish, no less so than in her developing relationship with pathologist Arnaud,
The pacing in this book is fast and yet well balanced. Not frenetic but with an overwhelming sense of urgency, especially as it becomes clear the killer has not finished their task and may have more victims waiting in the wings. Driven by dialogue, there is still a good amount of narrative content which drives the story along to its heart pumping conclusion.
This book had me totally hooked and despite having managed to listen to about two thirds of it on my way to Dundee, I had to see how it ended, reading the final chapters as soon as I checked into my hotel. (I should mention that the audio book is very good and very well narrated by Anna Parker-Naples. Well worth listening to.) Having started the series I need to find the time to blast through the others so that I can catch up. As it is now on book 14, I have a lot to get through but I have a feeling it is going to be one heck of a thrilling journey, one I am most definitely looking forward to.
Cruel Justice is the first book in the Justice Series by M.A. Comley, featuring D.I. Lorne Simpkins. It is available now from the following retailers.