Today’s book review of a crime novel is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.
This is Detective Inspector Lorimer’s worst nightmare and beyond anything he’s faced in his years on the force. Can he find a link between the brutal slaying of prostitutes in the back streets of the city and the methodical killing of several unconnected businessmen?
When the latest victim turns out to be a prominent Scottish politician, the media’s spotlight is shone on Lorimer’s investigation. Psychologist and criminal profiler Solly Brightman is called in to help solve the cases, but his help may be futile as they realise that someone on the inside is leaking confidential police information. Meanwhile two killers haunt the snowy streets and Lorimer must act fast, before they strike again…
This novel is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pound-Of-Flesh-DSI-Lorimer/dp/0751543845 and http://www.amazon.com/Pound-Of-Flesh-DSI-Lorimer/dp/0751543845.
The story starts with a very short (as they should be) prologue St Matthews Gospel chapter 18 verses 12 to 14.
Chapter 1 then introduces us to our main character, seemingly a prostitute, but things swiftly take a sinister enterprising turn.
The novel then switches points of view, all in third person, between the killer and main law-related personnel as well as being introduced – skillfully via ‘show not tell’ – to those in this solving-crimes process, we learn the killer’s motivation for murder revenge and the killing sprees (note the plural) which continue to baffle, for a while at least, the local police force.
With two serial killers, the body stack up with no obvious connection between the murderers but as a reader were privy to more information than any of the characters and it’s interesting seeing them interact.
And now for writers…
A couple of phrases that leapt out – not in a good way – included ‘rubbing balm into the sore place of failure’, and ‘a goodly length of time’ for trying too hard.
Clichés included ‘chancing her arm’, ‘turned on her heel’ (at least a couple of those), ‘with a fine toothcomb’, ‘blood red’, ‘steely blue gaza’, ‘as quick as lightning’, ‘opened up a whole new can of worms’, ‘inky black’, ‘a ton of bricks’, and ‘nodded his head’ we can lose the head (in true Marie Antoinette fashion) because we don’t do that with any other part of our anatomy. I liked ‘she found herself folded into his embrace’.
Quite a few characters sigh, something I was picked up at on in my early days, bite their lips, and there are a few furrowed brows. Their names are quite distinctive although Barbara Knox is a real-life British actress – she plays Rita in Coronation Street – something that someone along the publishing process should of known, although perhaps this was an homage because there was also a character called Rita. I noticed a few characters have stereotypical a blue eyes which became a little annoying.
I really liked Maggie and Lorimer although they felt older than they were; Lorimer celebrated his 40th towards the end of the novel.
Active verbs included ‘raked his face’ (instead of looked at) and ‘his heart burst into shattered pulp’ which was great, and I loved ‘face like a fried egg’.
I also like the comparison between a warm fire and the house owners’ frosty welcome. There are a couple of times where the characters’ thoughts are revealed in quite long detail but there is a pause in real time i.e. the other characters are aware of the pause and because of this, it felt realistic.
Many writers include adverbs made unnecessary by what is preceding – usually dialogue – and we had here a few including ‘said firmly / grumpily / darkly’, ‘walked hurriedly’, a couple of ‘smile sadly’s and some ‘blandly’, ‘sourly’, ‘sadly’ and ‘sharply’s. How many ‘___ly’s do you have in your stories? See if you can replace the verb and adverb with a stronger verb to make your writing tighter e.g. plodded instead of walked slowly.
So many characters had BlackBerry mobile phones that I wondered if the author had shares in the company, perhaps more noticeable as I use an old BlackBerry to make my review notes while walking my dog and listening to the audiobooks.
There’s a fair amount of switching from character to character and it felt a little confusing at times. There are also –for me anyway – too much introspection including a character dreaming, making the novel far longer than it need have been. An unabridged audiobook would have worked better on this occasion.
It’s a well-plotted novel with plenty of detail for detail fans, not particularly gruesome but just enough to know what happened to the victims. The characters were engaging although they felt and were named older than they were. The novel loses a star due to editing errors / oversights but a worthy… four out of five.
Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor / critiquer, Chair of NWG (which runs the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition), Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition and creative writing tutor for her local county council. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page). She also recently created five online writing groups and an interview-only blog.
Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has six others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.
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If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.