'DI Thomas Ridpath was on the up in the Manchester CID: a promising young detective whose first case involved capturing a notorious serial killer. But ten years later he’s recovering from a serious illness and on the brink of being forced out of the police. Then people start dying: tortured, murdered, in an uncanny echo of Ridpath’s first case. As the investigation intensifies, old bodies go missing, records can’t be found and the murder count grows. Caught in a turf war between the police and the coroner’s office, digging up skeletons some would rather forget, Ridpath is caught in a race against time: a race to save his career, his marriage… And lives. When a detective goes missing everything is on the line. Can Ridpath close the case and save his colleague?'
Being honest. the majority of crime novels I have read - written by men - have left me somewhat underwhelmed and quite angry. There always seems to be the gratuitous rape or murder of women. Often ‘young, attractive’ women. There is an underlying problem with the crime genre in particular, involving this issue. Violence against women is so often portrayed in this genre and in a way that doesn’t contribute to the story or the moving of the plot of a novel. The only problem I have with this novel by MJ Lee is the detailed torture of women. The story would have been just as good without it. The descriptions were sometimes over the top and just too much and as someone who has read and watched Game Of Thrones, (I also have a problem with the content of those books as well, but that is another issue) I do have no problem with gore or disturbing scenes. Just the continuos and unnecessary depiction of women in crime novels really puts a dampening on otherwise well written novels.
Drawn in from the beginning, we meet Ridpath. We can feel his frustrations and empathise with his going back to work after cancer treatment. He is a flawed, but multi-layered character and ultimately a likeable character. He wants to get the job done and is very focused on his work, often leading to the secondary treatment of his family. The book is set in Manchester and we get a good idea of the area, having never been myself the author portrays it as a bustling city, the descriptions of the area were enjoyable to read and added to the gritty nature of the novel.
With shorter chapters I think it was the right decision to lay out the book in this way, it was a page-turning read, scanning the words to find out what was written next. The police ‘world’ is very realistic and set in the Coroners’ Court gives it an interesting and well-thought perspective that we don’t often get in crime novels.
With the novel ending in a cliff hanger we want to know what happens next! MJ Lee has crafted a novel that is well-written, gripping and perfect for fans of the crime genre. It is one of the best crime novels I have read with the twisting action and I didn’t figure out the who had done it. With wonderful descriptions of the surrounding area and a likeable but very realistic cast of characters, it will be interesting to see where the series goes from here! Overall, it was well worth the read and definitely pick up if you love detective novels.