More Equal than Others by Robin Roughley

9th April 2019 – 5 stars.

You’re guaranteed an imaginative plot that will twist and turn and twist again when you join DS Lasser on another investigation. In this case, it’s a twisted vigilante, wreaking havoc on the Wigan’s sex offenders.

The pace and tension are relentless, the dark, dark humour that runs through the stories is delicious. The banter and double act with DCI Bannister are the highlight of yet another great story from Robin Roughley.

It’s intense, gritty and shocking, but filled with humanity, which shines through in Lasser’s determination to bring the killer to justice, no matter what. His romance and relationship with Medea adds another welcome dimension to his character and the story.

Highly recommended.

 

Description

Lasser is on cloud nine but murder soon brings him down to earth.

A sunny afternoon in the park. Children at play, families picnicking on the grass and a man pushing an old pram, a pram that contains horrors beyond reckoning.

DS Lasser is happy, engaged to the woman of his dreams, just back from a two-week vacation. Life is sweet.

But it only takes one phone call, telling him that a local sex offender has been mutilated and murdered and all thoughts of harmonious bliss are quickly annihilated.

Someone is stalking the streets of this down-at-heel northern town, someone with a burning hatred and a long list containing the names of the guilty.

As if things weren’t bad enough, a local reporter is leading a witch-hunt, determined to lay the blame for the killings at Lasser’s feet.

As the nights draw in and the body count rises, Lasser must hunt the maniac who is spiralling out of control. Though he soon comes to realises that the killer, even in his madness, is working to an agenda.

And he isn’t working alone.

More Equal than Others

Twisted by Robin Roughley

4.5/5 stars. A compelling series with strong, sharply drawn characters, an evocative setting with a seedy underbelly, dark humour, and plots that drag you all over the place and back again.

Description

Would you stop a Good Samaritan from killing a killer?

When Sarah Palmer is attacked on her way home, she knows she is seconds from death. That is until a passing stranger miraculously appears out of the darkness to save her, before vanishing into the downpour.

All his life he has heard voices, his mother used to call them his imaginary friends. Now, he can hear only one, and it’s telling him to do bad things.

Amidst so much horror and death DS Lasser finds himself hunting a killer who has no moral compass, but when the true nature of the murderer is revealed, Lasser is forced to acknowledge that someone else sowed the seeds that bloomed into insanity.

As the killer runs amok, Lasser and the team must try to second-guess his intentions before more innocents are slaughtered. Though he soon comes to realise it’s not only the police hunting the killer, someone else has a stake in putting an end to his reign of terror. Someone who literally has nothing left to live for.

My thoughts

Twisted is the fourth DS Lasser novel and like its predecessors it’s fast paced, tense and thrilling in equal measures, though it seemed more violent and graphic.

While you could read this as a standalone, you’d miss the development of the characters and the relationships that add colour and humour to the gritty storylines. The fractious relationship between Lasser and Bannister, his boss, is a joy at times, picking up from where they left off in the previous novel. Lasser’s relationship with Medea is also a delight, especially when it exposes his self-doubt and hang ups.

With plenty of twists and turns, the story alternates between Lasser and the killer. The author always manages to get inside the minds of his characters, so you know and understand them quickly. His portrayal of the killer is chilling, but tempered with empathy as the tragic reasons that created him are revealed.

Lasser is bolshie, driven and relentless in his pursuit of killers, and almost perpetually soaked to the skin in this novel as the rain over Wigan never lets up. But that’s what makes this series compelling – the strong, sharply drawn characters, the evocative setting with its seedy underbelly, the dark humour, and plots that drag you all over the place and back again. The story started to drag a little towards the end, perhaps because of one too many twists, but it remains another enjoyable and compulsive read.

Looking forward to the next in the series.

4.5/5 stars

Twisted Robin Roughley

Authors who inspire me to write better

Last weekend, I wrote about the authors who inspired me to move from the ideas buzzing around my head to putting fingers on the keys of a typewriter or word processor. (You can read the post here.)

Sue Grafton’s alphabet murder series, featuring Kinsey Millhone, helped me believe I could create my own detective and write crime fiction. Now, with two books published and the third scheduled for May this year, my inspiration comes from other crime writers who bring their own style and ideas to the party.

Plenty of choice

Let’s face it, there are millions of books out there, each vying for your attention as you scan the results on Amazon, Kobo or your local library bookshelves. But out of those millions, how many will appeal to you? How many would you class as ‘essential reads’? How many books would you buy on the strength of the author’s name?

There are so many good writers out there, offering different spins on the same themes and subjects. Why do some capture your imagination more than others? Why do they talk to you in a way that others don’t? What is it that draws you to a particular writer?

I’ve no idea, but I suspect it has a lot to do with the author’s voice and style. The author talks to you in a way you like and understand. The story and characters still have to be good, and familiar settings can help, but there’s something about particular authors that strike a chord or two.

I could list well over twenty authors, whose police procedurals, psychological thrillers or private detective novels have entertained me over the past few years. (There’s a similar list of authors whose books were dumped after a few chapters or pages.)

But at the moment, there are only four authors who inspire me, who make me want to write stronger and better to reach the benchmarks they set. They all write police procedural series with strong central characters, imaginative plots, and dramatic storylines. Yet each author is distinct, bringing something different to the table. I’ve listed them in the order I discovered them.

Robin Roughley – DS Lasser series

Tethered to the DeadRobin has written fifteen of sixteen books so far, set in and around Wigan, but I’ve only just finished reading Tethered to the Dead, which is No 3, but I love the character and his fearless pursuit of criminals. The plots are complex and explode in all directions from a simple crime. There’s social comment, an unflattering view of the seedier side of life, and a wonderful optimism and wit that reassures you that the world will be all right once DS Lasser gets the killer.

But best of all, I like the way the author takes you into the heads of his characters, good and bad, revealing there essence in a few paragraphs.

Peter James – Detective Superintendent Roy Grace

Not Dead EnoughAgain, I’m only on book three, Not Dead Enough, but I can see why Peter James is one the top crime writers in the country. Not only is he an excellent writer who can create memorable characters and brings them to life in a few paragraphs, his plots are wickedly clever. He portrays all shades of Brighton and offers plenty of social and political comment in his investigations, but it’s his attention to detail and police procedure that lift his stories above most of the others. That detail about how the police operate, the systems they use, the buildings they occupy and the rules and regulations that govern their work add great credibility and authenticity to the novels.

LJ Ross – DCI Ryan

I’m a newcomer to this series, set in Northumberland, but again, it’s the story and characters that matter, including a touch of romance, which we all enjoy, don’t we? Holy Island, had a distinctive plot, laced with an undercurrent of ritual and mysticism, to tax the charismatic lead characters in a tale filled with suspense and drama. The style leans more towards the cosy end of the crime market, but remains modern and relevant, which appeals to me.

Book two, Sycamore Gap, is my next read.

Rachel Amphlett – DS Kay Hunter

Will to Live coverI’ve only recently discovered this series and enjoyed the first two books, Scared to Death and Will to Live. Rachel has a no-nonsense, economic style of writing that engages you from the first paragraph. Like Peter James, her plots are different and deftly delivered with a touch of wit and humour to lighten the tone.

While she tackles gritty subjects and hard hitting crimes, she manages without littering her stories with profanities and gratuitous descriptions or violence, which proves it’s the story that counts. I also like to write this way.

These authors all have distinctive styles, but share a number of characteristics that heighten their appeal and inspire me, namely

  • strong central characters who will do whatever it takes to bring the villains to justice
  • complex, twisting plots that baffle, intrigue, entertain and fulfil
  • realism and credibility
  • humour and wit, often dark, that’s often lacking in many novels.

 

Though a newcomer to crime fiction with much to learn, these are the characteristics I strive to bring to my novels, and I’m delighted I’ve found such fantastic examples to show me the way.

I’m sure there will be many more authors in my ‘To Be Read’ pile that will entertain and hopefully inspire me.

That’s the joy of reading.


Click here for reviews of the novels mentioned in this post.

If you’d like to find out more about my novels and lead character, Kent Fisher, please check out my website at http://robertcrouch.co.uk or my Amazon page.

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