Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Perfect Prey, the second book in the DI Luc Callanach series by Helen Fields. Once again, this was an audio book for me, finished off in ebook format when I got home from my whirlwind trip up to … Edinburgh. Well. Seemed appropriate really. I’ll be sharing my thoughts in just a moment, but first, here is what the book is about.
The Official Book Blurb
Welcome to Edinburgh. Murder capital of Europe.
In the middle of a rock festival, a charity worker is sliced across the stomach. He dies minutes later. In a crowd of thousands, no one saw his attacker.
The following week, the body of a primary school teacher is found in a dumpster in an Edinburgh alley, strangled with her own woollen scarf.
D.I. Ava Turner and D.I. Luc Callanach have no leads and no motive – until around the city, graffitied on buildings, words appear describing each victim.
It’s only when they realise the words are being written before rather than after the murders, that they understand the killer is announcing his next victim…and the more innocent the better.
Okay. These books … they’re not your average run of the mill murder mystery police procedurals. You need a strong stomach when contemplating some of the events, particularly in this book, where the murders which occur become progressively more brutal as time passes. Starting with an unexplained murder at a music festival, Callanach and Turner have no idea where this is going to lead them. And, dear reader, neither do we. It certainly wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Each murder becomes pregressively more heinous, either violent or gruesome, and the victims have nothing to link them and yet … well, clearly something does.
Now I am really starting to love the characters of Callanach and Ava, They do really work well together. At least they did. In Perfect Prey Ava is distracted and fractious and with the reappearance of an old friend, her friendship with Callanach is pushed to its limits. Things are not helped when DCI Begbie is taken out of action and they are at the mercy of Superintendant Overbeck, a woman who could certainly do with lessons in staff management. There were times where you were left wondering if their friendship would survive, certain underhand tactics employed by Ava’s new lover which would push anyone to the edge.
As for the murders, as I say they get progressively worse. The first seemed horrific enough, designed to allow the victim no chance of a reprieve. The second is violent and yet in no way similar. And then the third … Well that is simply stomach churning. The description is clear enough to leave the reader in no confusion about how the victim suffered. But the reasons behind the killings? Well they are far more complex and as times goes on we are fed little snippets from the killer’s perspective, one which leads us toward a shocking and surprising understanding of what is going on.
Intertwined with the murders, and the reasons for Ava’s old friend appearing on the scene, is an investigation by Scotland Yard into a massive banking hack which results in several prominent businessmen losing millions of pounds. Although there is seemingly no connection to Callanach’s case he still finds himself locking horns with DCI Joseph Edgar, and not all of it is because of the job. There is jealousy on both sides about the relationship the other has with Ava, one which takes the rivalry well beyond the professional. It is safe to say, and I don’t believe this is much of a spoiler, that Edgar is a grade-A plonker. Let’s face it – he’s not Callanach. Of course he was always going to be a plonker.
One of the other key characters that I really liked in this book is Lance Proudfoot, the online journalist who approaches Callanach for the inside line on the first murder. It makes a change to see the police and the press working so closely and effectively together in the interests of the case. It did look initially as though he would just be another thorn in Callanach’s side as is so often the case with journalists in literature and yet there is much more to Lance. His friendship with Callanach, although cautious at first, grows into something I’m keen to see develop more. There is something about him. He just kind of fits. And then there is DS Lively. He made Callanach’s life hell in book one and it is still not a perfect pairing by any stretch, but the constant jibes at Callanach’s expense do provide some lighter moments in a very dark read.
As I’ve intimated earlier, this may not be a book to read over dinner. What it is though is a tense, action packed, occasional stomach churner of a thrill ride. A very deadly game with rules which are far from clear and which place our heroes and their teams in grave danger on more than one occasion. From the startling opening to the tense showdown(s) at the end, this book will grip you, vice like, from the start and not let you go until you have turned its very last page. Fab read.
You can purchase your own copy of Perfect Prey from the following retailers: