Today it is my absolute pleasure to be able to join the blog tour for the very magnificent First to Die by Alex Caan. My thanks to Imogen Sabba at publishers Bonnier Zaffre for inviting me to join the tour. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the book in just a moment, after we’ve taken a look at what it is all about.
About the Book
A DARK AND EDGY CRIME THRILLER FOR FANS OF SARAH HILARY, KATERINA DIAMOND, ANGELA MARSONS AND ROBERT BRYNDZA.
SOMEWHERE IN THE CROWD IS A KILLER
Bonfire Night and St James’s Park is filled with thousands of Anonymous protesters in a stand-off with the police. When a cloaked, Guido Fawkes mask-wearing body is discovered the following morning, Kate Riley and Zain Harris from the Police Crime Commissioner’s office are called in.
The corpse has been eaten away by a potentially lethal and highly contagious virus. The autopsy reveals the victim was a senior civil servant, whose work in international development involved saving lives. Why would anyone want him dead?
THEY WILL STRIKE AGAIN
As the research team looking into the origins of the deadly virus scramble to discover an antidote, first one, then another pharmacist goes missing. Meanwhile, a dark truth starts to emerge about the murder victim: he was an aggressive man, whose bullying behaviour resulted in the suicide attempt of one of his former staff members.
AND TIME IS RUNNING OUT . . .
With thirty lives potentially at stake, Kate and Zain have their work cut out for them. Can they find the two missing pharmacists in time, or will they too end up dead?
I have been looking forward to reading this book for quite some time. It may well have been me that accidentally managed to highlight the books arrival on Amazon at the end of last year. Sorry about that. But what can I say? Its predecessor, Cut to the Bone, was one of my absolute favourite reads in my first year of blogging and from the very start I was taken by characters Kate Riley and Zain Harris. The writing was brilliant, the potting perfect – how could I not look forward to book two?
Unlike author Alex Caan, I had absolutely no doubts that I was going to love what I was reading and I am pleased to say that I was right. Very, very right. From the very outset of the novel you are drawn back into action with Zain the focus of our attention. Happy reader here then. A protest rally which soon turns into something far, far worse, putting Kate and the team in a very difficult and potentially deadly situation. When all the excitement has died down from the rally, a man is discovered, his body covered in bloody pustules, the source of which is unknown. it doesn’t behave like any virus the scientists have ever seen and its origins are unknown. But as to whether this is a one off incident or that start of a far wider reaching terrorist plot is something Kate and the team will have to work out.
Oh this story. So very topical when you think about it given recent events down in Salisbury. Life imitating art as it were but I would argue that Mr Caan’s work is far more gruesome and skin crawling than reports you may have seen on the news. My only advice would be not to read the novel while eating as there is a certain scene which made even me pull a face and I am not unsettled easily. And it is not just the scene in the park which will make you grimace – there are a number of scenes which have the ability to unsettle readers. Not that this is a particularly gruesome novel but it is far from cosy crime either.
What I have loved about the series is the way that Alex Caan has developed the characters. Both Kate and Zain have rather meaty back stories, ones which continue to haunt them throughout First to Die. If you haven’t read Cut to the Bone, then there is enough of a recap to be able to understand the dynamic in this book, but not too much for those already acquainted. And I do love Kate and Zain, Kate is a ballsy woman, determined, focused, bold but always on edge and always alert. And Zain. Ahhhh Zain, I do like my characters a little dark, perhaps a little broken. Zain has all this in spades but also a reliance on, and commitment to, Kate, which makes him vulnerable. Alex Caan continually puts the both through the ringer and there is such threat to them both by the end of this book that I am desperate to see what happens next.
Pacing in the book is perfect, balancing the frustrations of waiting for science to do its thing, against the need to keep things moving in terms of the investigation. The author has created light and shade perfectly, moments of reflection from the characters, when their personal life comes to the fore, balanced against the tense action of the investigation and the ongoing murders. And despite the complexity of the subjects discussed, he has made the book very accessible without trivialising either the idea of terrorism or sensationalising it or the reasons behind it. It feels authentic and it draws the reader in, keeping them on the hook as each new development unfolds. So many suspects, so many possibilities. So many reasons to keep reading. I loved it.
If you read and loved Cut to the Bone then you definitely need to read this book. If you haven’t read that one yet, don’t deny yourself a treat. Go and start with book one and then come back here for more. You won’t be disappointed.
Did I mention I loved it?
My thanks to publishers Bonnier Zaffre for providing and advance copy of First to Die for review. It is available now from the following retailers:
About the Author
Alex Caan has spent over a decade working in Information Systems Security for a number of government organisations, and is currently specialising in Terrorism Studies. A lifetime passion for writing was sparked by the encouraging words of an English Teacher in school, and eventually led to Alex successfully completing an MA in Creative Writing, and write Cut to the Bone.
Cut to the Bone has been a Kindle Number 1 bestseller, was picked as a WH Smith ‘Everyone’s Talking About’ book of the week, chosen as Sainsbury’s best of summer reads and was Angela Marson’s pick for crime novel recommendation of the year. Alex Caan was also a rising star on Amazon in 2016.
First to Die, the shocking sequel to Cut to the Bone, is out June 14th 2018.
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