Good Cop, Bad Cop by Simon Kernick

Today It is my pleasure to join the tour for the brand new novel from Simon Kernick, Good Cop Bad Cop. I’ve come to the author’s writing really late (I’m hopeless like that) but been really looking forward to this new release. My thanks to publisher Headline for the advance copy for review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the blog tour invite. Here’s what the book is about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: 11 November 2021

About the Book

Undercover cop Chris Sketty became a hero when he almost died trying to stop the most brutal terror attack in UK history. With the suspects either dead or missing, the real motive remains a mystery.

But someone is convinced Sketty is a liar.
A criminal mastermind.
A murderer.

Blackmailed into revealing the truth, Sketty will share a twisting tale of betrayal, deception and murder…with a revelation so shocking that nothing will be the same again.

My Thoughts

Oh this book is good. Really, really good. You know when characters and story really just grab you and keep your focus from start to finish? This book did that for me. I’ve had a somewhat turbulent relationship with reading of late, so when I find a book I can essentially start and finish in a day, I take that as a real positive. And that’s exactly what happened when I sat down and tucked into Good Cop Bad Cop, Simon Kernick’s latest high stakes, high tension offering.

This is the story of former Detective Chris Sketty. Injured in the line of duty and lauded as a hero, he has been slowly robbed of everything he held dear – his family, his career and now he faces yet another … issue. Not everyone believes his hero status is as deserved as the public may have been led to believe, and that, in a nutshell, is the outline of this book. Confronted by his accuser, who has far more evidence of the past than any member of the public should, Chris Sketty slowly but surely recounts his past. The events which led to that fateful night that changed everything. And he is brutally honest in his account, taking us as readers on a guided tour of his past, and his present, and pushing us to act not only as voyeur, but also sit in judgement as to which side of the law Sketty really operates on.

If only it were that simple. Few things in life ever are, and Simon Kernick has written a tale which is so twisted, in nearly every sense of the word, that it’s almost impossible to not start second guessing the motives of the characters, and our own understanding of what is happening. This is a story in which subterfuge is the name of the game, where deception comes as naturally to the central protagonists as breathing. It may not always sit comfortably with them, especially with Sketty, which is, I have to say, some comfort given the nature of the crimes he becomes embroiled in, but the transition from law abiding to something far darker is almost seamless, and at times startling.

I liked the character of Chris Sketty. Simon Kernick has managed to make him sympathetic but retain a kind of edge to his personality. He is quick to temper, and not always able to control his urge to violence, and the more we learn of his past, the easier it is to understand. And yet, although he is not the picture perfect copper by any means, there is a line even he does not wish to cross, although it’s fair to say the author has pushed him to his very limits. Whether he is essentially a good guy or if he is the bad cop that his accuser would believe … well, it’s not quite that straightforward. He makes mistakes, with huge implications, and his efforts to do the right thing often result in violence and, a little too often, the ultimate of all ends. But was that due to corruption or ill judgement? You need to read to understand and then make your call.

The tension in this book is pitch perfect. Keeping readers on edge from the very beginning, there is an underlying sense of threat that permeates every chapter. Some of the characters will make your skin crawl. Often you may find yourself astounded by the calls that some of time make, as I often did. It’s a story where even the good guys make bad calls, but all in the name of justice. Isn’t it? Based around the theme of domestic terrorism, the story is actually multi-dimensional, with so many different threads that the truth is often hard to uncover and even when you think you have a handle on what is happening, don’t get comfortable. Simon Kernick is there, ready to lob another fluffing curveball right at your head. And I bloody loved every minute of it.

Although part of the book is Chris Sketty’s account of the fateful events of 14 years earlier, the transition from his past to the present days works seamlessly. I almost forgot that he was telling a story until we are brought back into the scenes with his accuser. We are fully transported and immersed in the action that is taking place, developing a real sense of time and of space, with the author making us feel as present on the Cliveden Forest estate, as we are in the Oxfordshire mansion of Dr Teller. He gives just enough detail to put us front and centre in the various locations, using setting to enhance and not overwhelm the story. On the estate, the sense of deprivation is essential to setting the tone of what follows, and also in establishing the dynamic in Sketty’s new team and used to great effect in driving that particular part of the narrative.

This book is littered with violence, but never played out in a gratuitous to graphic way, the very worst of it kept off the page. What there is drives the story, enhances our sense of right and wrong and colours our opinion of Sketty and what comes to pass. There is a kind of ‘Usual Suspects’ vibe, Simon Kernick’s own take on the Kayser Söze legend, a character who is omnipresent but, much like the movie, almost mythological in status and impossible to pin down. That very fact made me want to keep turning the page, partly to see if justice would be served, maybe for Sketty but most definitely for others, but a larger part of it was to see if the most perplexing of questions that this book asks is ever, finally, answered.

If you want to know if that answer is yes, or no, you’d best grab yourself a copy of the book. Fast paced, and full of mystery, misdirection, tension and conflict, you’d be mad to miss it.

About the Author

Simon Kernick is a number one bestseller and one of the UK’s most popular thriller writers, with huge hits including RELENTLESS, THE LAST 10 SECONDS, SIEGE and the BONE FIELD series.

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