15th December 2019. 3 stars.
As a fan of Agatha Christie and cosy mysteries, I was drawn to this book by the description and promise of a golden age detective mystery. I enjoyed the easy going style of the author during the first half of the story. There seemed to so much promise, especially when a younger, fast-tracked superintendent replaces an experienced DC Inspector on a serial killer investigation. I couldn’t wait for the potential conflict and battle between the two to solve the case, but it never materialised. The main characters were shaping up to provide further interest and intrigue, especially when a profiler was appointed.
My high hopes, however, were dented when the plot moved in a direction I struggled to believe. The investigation stumbled along, owing more to Dorothy L Sayers than forensics and modern detection methods. This lack of method and direction may have been written to underpin the superintendent’s lack of experience, but as the former DCI was pretty much written out of the plot, this potential development came to an abrupt end.
The last couple of chapters surprised me, though not for the reasons the author or publisher intended, I imagine. All I can say without spoilers is that I found the ending disappointing and unsatisfactory.
It’s a shame because I enjoy crime fiction that avoids the usual clichés and traumatised cops, but in the end Superintendent Collinson, his colleagues and the story didn’t feel credible or real enough to me.
The genteel façade of London’s Hampstead is shattered by a series of terrifying murders, and the ensuing police hunt is threatened by internal politics, and a burgeoning love triangle within the investigative team. Pressurised by senior officers desperate for a result a new initiative is clearly needed, but what? Intellectual analysis and police procedure vie with the gut instinct of ‘copper’s nose’, and help appears to offer itself from a very unlikely source a famous fictional detective. A psychological profile of the murderer allows the police to narrow down their search, but will Scotland Yard lose patience with the team before they can crack the case?