Today I share my thoughts on book one in the Detective Ford series by Andy Maslen, Shallow Ground. I love discovering new Detective fiction and with a serial killer lurking in the shadows, this one was right up my street. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
Detective Ford has a cold-blooded killer to catch. But can he escape his own dark secrets?
Barely a month since his promotion to Inspector, DI Ford is called in to investigate the murder of a young nurse and her son in a small flat in Salisbury. There are few clues, and no apparent motive, but Ford can sense that there’s a serial killer at work. After all, he knows from brutal personal experience how killers cover their tracks…
It’s been six years since Ford lost his wife in a climbing accident—an accident he caused. He is desperate to keep the truth hidden, especially from his son, Sam. But Ford’s new partner, Dr Hannah Fellowes, is a crime scene investigator with a ruthlessly analytical mind, and as they work together to track down the killer, his crippling guilt is compounded by fear of exposure.
When instinct leads him towards a high-profile suspect, his superiors’ warnings just make him more determined to connect impulse and fact. But can Ford hold it all together—the case, his life—long enough to stop the killer?
Well this is not the book for you if you are a little bit squeamish of hemophobic. The murders in this story certainly are of the grizzly variety and whilst not graphic in detail, leave little to the imagination. Bloodbath, completely. Intriguing? Without question. The first murder had my nerves a tingling from the off, my hackles rising and the suspicion aroused from the moment the killer came into view. It also had me wondering just how trusting a person could possibly be. The answer was apparently far too much.
Detective Ford is an intriguing character. Haunted by his wife’s death, we are treated to the full extent of his guilt and personal anxieties right from the off in this. book. There’s no messing about waiting to get to the heart of a complicated back story. Readers are placed front and centre very quickly which is kind of refreshing in an age when dragging out the mystery of a character’s quirks often borders on the frustratingly annoying. Whether his personal demons are justified – well you can judge for yourself but it certainly affects him and his behaviour, and also the relationship with his son. I liked Ford as a character, even if his self recriminations did make me want to shake him at times, but he is a man driven by instinct and not easy to sway once he has a suspect in his sights. To counter his singular determination to catch a killer, we have the brand new Forensic scientist, Hannah Fellowes. She is a quirky character in herself but it wasn’t remotely awkward, her honesty and deliberate actions a good counter to Ford’s character. They make a good pairing, their interactions humourous, and whilst it appears both are nursing secrets, they do bring out the best in each other.
This is a complex case, the killer hidden in plain sight but the clues confounding Ford as he tries to prove his guilt. We don’t get to understand the full ins and out of the killer’s motives to begin with, but as the story builds, the picture starts to clear. The killers behaviour is beyond creepy and definitely makes the stomach turn, but the understanding of what they are trying to achieve by such violent and bloody murders makes the mind churn. When Ford focuses in on the person he believes to be guilty, it is hard to sway him, and to be fair, throughout the story the suspect pool is particularly small. There really are only two characters whose behaviour is suspect and who could likely be a killer but which one. The author has done a good job of maintaining the tension and creating just enough doubt over each of them to make anything possible until the actual truth is revealed.
The pacing in the book is good, and the question marks over who the killer actually was and their motive kept me turning the page. I think it helped that I really liked Ford, and I really didn’t like the suspects,especially the one eventually unmasked as the killer. As some of the scenes are told in their voice it makes some of the scenes quite chilling, and so I wanted to see them have their comeuppance and the story brought to a hopefully positive conclusion. Ford and Hannah are a great pair and I was rooting for them for all manner of reasons, and after this sold start to the series, I’m keen to see how this team is developed in future books.
About the Author
Andy Maslen was born in Nottingham, England. After leaving university with a degree in psychology, he worked in business for thirty years as a copywriter. In his spare time, he plays blues guitar. He lives in Wiltshire.