Today I am finally sharing my thoughts on The Collector by Fiona Cummins, the chilling sequel to one of my favoruite reads of 2017, Rattle. I have been looking forward to reading this since i bagged an early ARC at Harrogate last summer, but have put it off as long as possible to coincide with the hardback release. Well, that day is almost upon us so it felt like it was time. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the book is just a moment, after we’ve taken a look at the blurb.
The Official Book Blurb
Jakey escaped with his life and moved to a new town.
His rescue was a miracle but his parents know that the Collector is still out there, watching, waiting . . .
Clara, the girl he left behind, dreams of being found.
Her mother is falling apart but she will not give up hope.
The Collector has found an apprentice to take over his family’s legacy.
But he can’t forget the one who got away and the detective who destroyed his dreams.
DS Etta Fitzroy must hunt him down before his obsession destroys them all.
Now if you caught up with my #Bookvent countdown before Christmas, or even if you have only read the intro to this review, you will know that I was rather taken with Rattle, the first in the Etta Fitzroy series by Fiona Cummins. It was such a unique and haunting story, seriously creepy, with overtones of Silence of the Lambs but much more chilling. The reason? Well the victims were mainly children. The perpetrator? A merciless collector of human skeletal deformities.
At the end of that book we had resolution for the Frith family, reunited with their son Jakey, but not for the Foyle’s who had yet to learn to fate of their beloved daughter Clara. The Collector picks up a short time after the previous book, with the eponymous character living a new life in a coastal town, Clara still missing and Etta Fitzroy, the Detective Sergeant who exposed Brian Howley, aka The Bone Collector’s macabre museum of the dead, still suffering the guilt and after effects of an investigation gone wrong where a colleague was severely injured and a violent criminal escaped. It is quite a dark mix before you even take into account Howley’s need to rebuild his collection and his desire to take back the prize he lost – young Jakey Frith.
I can’t exactly say that it was good to catchup with Fitzroy again as she is a very complex character. Haunted by the still birth of her child, her failings in the last case are having a great impact upon her. When a new DC is brought onto the team to replace Chambers, Fitzroy feels even more out of control, certain that DC Tony Storm has been brought in to replace her. And behind it all, away from the separation from her husband, her guilt over Chambers, her guilt and fears for Clara Foyle, Fitzroy has another secret, one which will change things quite dramatically. I do like Fitzroy, cannot doubt or argue against her resolve or her determination, but she makes some very unwise decision and risks everything to bring Howley to justice. That impetuousness makes her both endearing and also infuriating – a brilliant blend in a crime novel.
As for Howley, he is as creepy and dispassionate as he was in Rattle, and even more determined. Not only does he want to rebuild what he has lost but he also wants to get revenge on Fitzroy and to find himself an heir, someone who can carry on where he leaves off.He appears to be a heartless character but throughout the book we learn more about his past, his relationship with his parents, and the point at which, potentially, he became the killer we know and loathe today. Nature or nurture? You decide.
There are other characters, old and new who make up the story, with the narrative split into days and the chapters taking on a differing point of view. Sometimes following Fitzroy, sometimes Howley, we also get toe hear the stories of Jakey and his father Erdman, Clara’s mother, Amy, and a new character Saul. Saul is perhaps the most interesting of them all. He also has secrets, dark events in his past which he wants to hide, things which Howley recognises and feeds upon as he chooses Saul as his heir apparent. Howley has no son but sees in Saul a kindred spirit, someone who just needs to be nurtured correctly. It is true that Saul is damaged in ways most people do not understand, but whether he is as dark as Howley you will have to read to find out.
It is a very cleverly structured book, the switching between view points and stories easy to follow. The change drives the action onward, making you want to keep turning page after page, desperate to see justice done to Howley, hopeful that Amy and Clara find their peace and that Jakey, a young boy with so much more courage than his small body and young years should need to show, somehow manages to remain free. You can feel the moment that his fear turns to strength and it is a moment of light in an otherwise dark novel.
While I don’t think there were quite as many moments of shock in this book, mostly because we already know Howley M.O., it still kept me hooked and on the edge of my seat. There was a different kind of need driving this one. A need for resolution rather than revelation. There are times when your heart will be in your mouth. Times when you know the inevitable will happen but you still cannot quite believe it, but also a moment of almost serenity at the end. Not quite all hearts and flowers but certainly satisfying. That small element of uncertainty and an understated feeling of ‘what if …?’
An absolutely cracking read.
The Collector is available from 22nd February from the following retailers: