Today it’s my great pleasure to be joining the blog tour for Steel and Shadows the first book in the John Steel series by Stuart Field. My thanks go to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to join and to publishers Crime Scene Books for supplying the book for review. Here is what it is all about.
About the Book
No-nonsense NYPD detective Sam McCall is investigating one of the deadliest and most complex cases of her career when the mysterious, yet infuriatingly intriguing, John Steel insinuates himself into the department.
What appears at first to be the work of a serial killer soon encompasses a cast including violent Russian gangsters, creepy psychiatric doctors, the homeless community and ghosts from the past for both McCall and Steel.
This debut novel keeps the reader gripped from start to finish with a breathtaking joyride through a wild series of unexpected twists and turns.
I’m not going to lie. When I started reading this book I thought I was getting one kind of story but within a couple of chapters I was taken somewhere else entirely. Not in a bad way but if you read it you will understand what I mean. the scene opens on what appears to be a true action thriller kind of story, a team of mercenaries invading a garden party to welcome home a true hero, their methods far from peaceful, leaving only one person, our hero, John Steel, on the outside, trying desperately to save his family. The action is fast, and thrilling, the killing indiscriminate, the tension palpable. You are left with the impression that this could be one of the shortest lived action heroes in literary history …
But there is one thing you perhaps need to understand about John Steel. He is no ordinary hero. I’m not saying he’s like Superman or anything, there doesn’t appear to be anything especially Marvel-esque about his character and he does indeed scar and bleed, but by golly he is mysterious. In a good way. Following the scenes in Steel’s family home we are taken to New York city, where a sadistic killer is taking women off the streets and murdering them, leaving their bodies in a truly macabre way. It is down to Sam McCall and her team to find out why and stop them before they claim more victims. It is far from a straight forward case, made all the more complicated by the arrival of the mysterious and, at least in Sam’s eyes, infuriating Mr Steel.
I have to say I kind of liked Sam McCall. She is a strong, no nonsense kind of character who leads her team well. In fact the whole team of the NYPD were easy to get to know, even if Sam’s immediate superior was clearly holding something back about who Steel was and why he was there. Steel on the other hand … well there is something about him, although I’m not sure I can exactly describe what. Although I said he isn’t like a Marvel creation, I guess in some ways he is. Or maybe Lazarus in that nothing seems able to keep him down. He moves in and out of the shadows, insinuating himself in the case and disappearing as quickly and quietly as he arrived. He’s like a little ninja. You’ve no idea he is there until he is tapping you on the shoulder. He’s the fixer. The man you call to resolve a problem before you even knew you had one. There is a strong chemistry between Steel and McCall which I’d be interested to see if the author develops in the series moving forward.
The pacing in this book is fast and there is little time to breathe between the murders. While the bodies are left in a gruesome way, it is largely kept off the page. That said, I think in the era of #metoo, the book may come in for some criticism over the choice of all female victims and the language that is used throughout. While Sam is undoubtedly a strong female role model, the description of her and some of the victims was a little old fashioned and I am not sure that I needed to know that they had ‘ample bosoms’ even if they did. It wasn’t that which go them killed so I don’t know that it was relevant to the story. Maybe the author it’s not even the words so much as the context in which they were used, but it did irk a touch and I don’t normally notice things like that to be fair.
The odd choice of language blunder aside, this was a very enjoyable read. Full of action and tense scenes, it will keep thriller and action fans happy as well as appealing to those who love a good police procedural. I had to suspend disbelief a few times and occasionally just accept that the strangely charismatic Mr Steel was like a cross between Teflon and Diamonds – nothing sticks and he’s very hard to crush – but I still found myself fully immersed and storming towards the dramatic and highly entertaining ending. Looking forward to reading more in the series.
If you’d like to get a copy of the book for yourself then you can find it at the following retailers:
About the Author
Stuart Field was born in the UK, in the West Midlands. He spent his early years in the army, seeing service in all the known (and some unknown) hotspots around the world. He now lives in Germany with his wife Ani. When not engaged in highly confidential security work, he writes thrillers which perhaps mimic his life-experience more than the reader would like to believe.
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