Review: Perfect Remains by Helen Fields @Helen_Fields @AvonBooksUK

Now I will be perfectly honest – a confession if you will – it has been a wee while since I listened to this book on audio. Even longer since I won a physical copy of the book early last year. I had every intention of publishing my review before Christmas but never quite made it. As I was invited to join the blog tour for the latest release in the series, Perfect Death, it seemed the perfect opportunity (no pun intended) to finally sit down and draft that review and to shufty book two, Perfect Prey up my list too. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the book with you all in just a moment, after all it’s had a three month gestation period already – what is a few seconds more? First, lets take a look at what this is all about.

prThe Official Book Blurb

On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.

In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness…

Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.

It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

Fans of Angela Marson, Mark Billingham and M. J. Aldridge will be gripped by this chilling journey into the mind of a troubled killer.

What a book. What a copper. What a killer! The, dare I say it, perfect combination of terrific (and yes horrific) story telling, captivating and engaging yet perfectly damaged hero and a killer you just want desperately to see brought to justice. From the very opening words of this book I was drawn into what it was clear was going to be a rather depraved and deadly world, where the seemingly mad actions of a merciless antagonist were brought sharply into focus, and the sense of hopelessness for the victims was almost, at times, overwhelming. In a probably perverse – I really love my police/crime fiction and this is right up my street – kind of way, I loved it.

What can I say about our hero, Luc Callanach. Well for one thing, in the harsh climate of Edinburgh, a former Interpol Officer and once-upon-a-time model, kind of sticks out like a sore thumb. But in reality, his pretty boy looks and French accent are the least of his problems. He has come to Police Scotland under somewhat of a cloud, an accusation which haunts him still and stymies any personal relationships he may form, even friendships.

Thankfully his colleague DI Ava Turner does not take no for an answer as they are a match made in heaven, at least from a policing perspective. They are so very different and yet complimentary and Ava is possibly the one thing to humanize Callanach, a man who could otherwise have been hard to come to like. As for Ava, she is hard and feisty and more than a match for Callanach, but whereas he is uptight, she is fun, if not also a little constrained by the awful things she sees on the job. She is also loyal to a fault when it comes to her friends, and her friendship with Callanach really is tested on occasion. I really liked the way her character has been developed, even if she does make some impetuous and dangerous decisions.

The central premise of this story though, surrounds the disappearance of some women from Edinburgh. When the remains of the first are found in a remote location, what had been a missing person case is upgraded to a murder case and handed to Callanach to investigate. When a second woman goes missing, it is not immediately clear that the cases may be linked, the women so very different that is it hard to see why the same person would take them both or what fate could befall the second victim.

However, the reader is privy to more information than the police and it is clear this is far from your typical abduction-murder fare. Far, far from it. The ‘killer’ in this case is someone who clearly has issues, several sections of the story told from his perspective. We know all along who has done it, and we get a gradually building picture of why as the question marks are raised over his sanity. We also see clearly who his next victim may be and can only turn the page and read on, or in my case listen, with bated breath as we wonder how they can possibly escape the inevitable.

It is certainly an edge of the seat kind of read and one which will induce more than a fair amount of wincing at some of the killers actions. And yet it would be wrong to simply denounce his behaviour as madness or insanity. There is a lot of thought, cunning and preparation which goes into his actions. He hides in plain sight, the object of his obsession always just out of reach and yet driving him to more and more depraved acts. I could literally feel the goosebumps rising as I read, feel myself recoiling at times at how twisted the tale was turning out to be. Certainly not quite what I expected but I still loved it.

The tone of this book is dark, the pacing fast and I felt, especially towards the end, that we were racing towards a deadly conclusion with a strange mix of anticipation, trepidation and sadness as I didn’t want the story to end. I absolutely wanted to see justice done, I wanted to see a kind of positive outcome if that was at all possible from among all the mess, but I definitely did not want it to end. Don’t get me wrong, it is not all darkness, with some moments of light. But there are quite a few threads to follow as the characters are developed throughout the book, one of which I still feel may come back to bite Callanach at a later date. I certainly don’t feel it was fully concluded in this book. No real sense of justice there … yet.

I have to be honest, I love the setting of Edinburgh and the idea of a French detective, someone used to sunshine and glamour, in the rainy and sometimes dour atmosphere of the Scottish capital just really seems to work. I’m not swayed by the accent (more of a Spanish or Italian fan myself), but there is just something about Callanach, perhaps his damaged spirit, most definitely the chemistry between him and Ava, that just makes me want to read more. Good job I had two more books to choose from really.

Perfect Prey is the first book in the Luc Callanach series and is available to purchase from the following retailers:

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Kobo | Waterstones

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