BLURB: When a man is found beaten to death in a local Manchester park, Detective Constable Sam Parker is one of the investigating officers. Sam swiftly identifies the victim, but what at first looks like an open and shut case quickly starts to unravel when he realises that the victim’s fingerprints were found on a knife at another crime scene, a month earlier.
Meanwhile, Sam’s brother, Joe – a criminal defence lawyer in the city – comes face to face with a man whose very presence sends shockwaves through his life. Joe must confront the demons of his past as he struggles to come to terms with the darkness that this man represents.
This is, according to GoodReads, the third book featuring the brothers, who are based in Manchester, but to be honest, I’d never have known that (although I did wonder if there were possibly others.) So you’re fine “going in cold” with this book – I know that gives certain people a horrible feeling, not starting at the start of the series (you know who you are!) but it’s not a problem, unless that is an issue with you. It’s written in third person past tense, for those of you for whom that’s important, and most, although by no means all, the chapters concentrate on the brothers.
What you find out early in the book, and this isn’t a clanging spoiler, is that Joe has a new client – and it’s a man he instantly recognises as having killed his and Dan’s sister, 17 years previously. He’d always promised that, if he ever saw him again, he would kill the man who destroyed his family. So he begins to investigate his new client, who, bizarrely, has been accused of breaking into the police lot and stealing his own car back – which had been confiscated due to lack of insurance – then burning it!
The book is a beautifully plotted crime novel – very clever and intricate, which means you don’t want to put it down for long, and miss a twist. I really enjoyed reading about Dan’s solid police work, desk work being his specialty – accounts, e-mails, lists of car reg plates – he’s your man. Sounds dull but White has a way of making it interesting, and it’s always feasible – no really crazy coincidences. And for those who enjoy action, there’s plenty to be found, as we follow Joe on his mission to prove the man is a murderer.
There’s also a series of three, seemingly unrelated, murders, which Dan is involved in investigating, and his boss dubs The Domino Killings, as he’s sure there’s some kind of tenuous link, even though the investigators can’t find it. But they couldn’t possibly be related to Dan and Joe’s sister’s murder 17 years previously…could they?
There are some fine lines – “A cigarette was passed along the line, but the way each cherished it told Joe it contained more than tobacco.” There’s a comment about how men can never identify flowers – how true! The short snappy chapters, often ending on a cliffhanger, did, in the last couple of sentences, occasionally sound a bit clichéd – I noted, “There were hard times ahead”; and at the end of the next chapter, “He had to get her through this. He owed her that much at least”. There were others, but you get my point, so that’s possibly something the author should be careful of.
And one bit annoyed me – someone (no spoilers!) has enough evidence for the police to catch a murderer, but doesn’t hand it in immediately as they need to “understand” it first. I know this is a necessary plot device to ensure a grand action-packed denouement, but it was bloody stupid, crimeworm must say. Still, it made for an hour or so of extra high octane entertainment. And if that’s what floats your boat, as it does mine, Neil White is definitely worth seeking out. It’s cleverly-written, action packed, and contains a superbly evil character, with a motive that intrigued me.
Perfect for: fans of police procedurals, with a good bit of action, like David Mark’s Aector McAvoy or Jane Casey’s Maeve Kerrigan series. Would make a great book to read while travelling, or on holiday. Take more books, though – you’ll rattle through this one!
With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me access to an early digital ARC of this book, and to Liz – many thanks for your patience!