See No Evil by David Fennell

Today I am delighted to join the blog tour for See No Evil, the brand new Grace Archer novel from David Fennell. My thanks to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for the invite and the publisher, Zaffre, for the advance copy of the books. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Release Date: 28 April 2022
Publisher: Zaffre

About the Book

The brilliantly dark new serial killer thriller from one of British crime writing’s freshest stars – perfect for fans of Chris Carter, Karin Slaughter and M.W. Craven.
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Two men are found dead in London’s Battersea Park. One of the bodies has been laid out like a crucifix – with his eyes removed and placed on his open palms.

Detective Inspector Grace Archer and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, lead the investigation. But when more bodies turn up in a similar fashion, they find themselves in a race against time to find the sadistic killer.

The hunt leads them to Ladywell Playtower in Southeast London, the home to a religious commune lead by the enigmatic Aaron Cronin. Archer and Quinn suspect Cronin’s involvement but his alibis are watertight, and the truth seemingly buried. If Archer is to find the killer, she must first battle her way through religious fanatics, London gangsters – and her own demons . . .

My Thoughts

Well … if you like your crime fiction dark and your murders grisly, then you definitely need to be checking out David Fennell. It’s safe to say that he doesn’t hold back when it comes to executing the most deliciously devious murders. Literary only of course. I hope … See No Evil is another humdinger of a crime story, seeing DI Grace Archer faded with another vicious killer, one who seems to want to send a very clear message, if only they are able to work out what it is and who it is for.

I really enjoyed the author’s first novel, The Art Of Death, but this one, for me, just takes things up a notch. He is clearly settling into his stride and getting to know his characters really well. Whilst he established Grace and her partner in crime fighting Harry Quinn, well in book one, I do feel as though I have a much better understanding of them noth now, in part because we explore a touch more of their backstory in this book, especially Grace who has extra reason to be watching her back as the investigation progresses. With worries at home as her grandfather sinks further into his dementia, and pressures are work too with colleagues who resent her presence and her history with the team, she has it coming at her from every angle. Add in a face from the past and a certain amount of personal anxiety linked to her experience on her last major case, it’s a wonder she is still so focused. And yet David Fennell has created the perfect balance, allowing us to see Grace’s vulnerable side when appropriate, but also allowing her to turn it to a strength when required. It is not something mentioned once and glossed over, it is constant, and I was mindful of it as I read, but it informed rather than inhibited her character in a way which made her ultimately very likeable and relatable. Very human.

The case itself of complex and full of unexpected turns. So many varied and untrustworthy characters who caused me to switch up my certainty over who was, or wasn’t, guilty on many occasions throughout the book. It kept me on my toes, kept me guessing and second guessing myself and kept the mystery bubbling along whilst the story, suspects and bodycount built up around it. It was clear that certain characters had a much larger part to play in the whole mystery than it first seemed, but just how was unclear until precisely the right moment. The pacing was perfect, ratcheting up when the tension peaked, and being just fast enough to keep me engaged when the team were engaged in the more mundane elements of the investigation. Not that this is a book which lends itself in any way to the mundane. The ritualistic nature of the murders, the strange sect like community in which some of the victims had been embroiled and the overwhelming sense of threat facing Grace make this anything but routine.

I do love the way in which the author led us very carefully to the climax of this story. I was blindsided by the eventual reveal of the killer, although not entirely surprised by some of the final links that were revealed. The clues were set out for us to follow, it’s all down to how much attention you are paying. And then the ending – sets us up nicely for the next book and undoubtedly a whole heap of trouble for Grace.

Fast paced, deliciously dark storytelling, with brilliant and very three dimensional characters you can’t help becoming invested in. Seeing the growing camaraderie between Grace, Quinn and new resident analyst, Klara, rand that ultimate sense of threat that ekes out of the conclusion to the novel, really makes me look forward to seeing what dark paths Mr Fennell leads us down next time. Definitely recommended.

About the Author

David Fennell was born and raised in Belfast before leaving for London at the age of eighteen with £50 in one pocket and a dog-eared copy of Stephen King’s The Stand in the other. He jobbed as a chef, waiter and bartender for several years before starting a career in writing for the software industry. He has been working in CyberSecurity for fourteen years and is a fierce advocate for information privacy. David has played rugby for Brighton and has studied Creative Writing at the University of Sussex. He is married and he and his partner split their time between Central London and Brighton.

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