It’s not that often these days that you’ll find me reviewing a crime thriller – especially the third in a series! But it’s an absolute delight today to be joining the blog tour for Dead Perfect by Noelle Holten, and sharing my review: published for kindle by One More Chapter on 16th October, the paperback will follow on 24th December (available for preorder). My thanks to Sarah at Book on the Bright Side for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading copy (provided via netgalley).
When I read and reviewed the first in the series, Dead Inside (you’ll find that review here), I declared (although I SO enjoyed it!) that I might not return for the rest of the series, because I’d just found it all a bit too harrowing. But I then couldn’t resist reading the second, Dead Wrong – and despite all those randomly discovered body parts, I really loved it (you’ll find my review here). And that cliffhanger ending! Well there was no way I wasn’t going to read the next book, was there?!
A murdered woman…
When the body of a young woman is found in a local park, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she’s dealing with no ordinary killer. The murder victim has been disfigured; her outfit changed to resemble someone else. Someone Maggie knows all too well…her close friend Dr Kate Moloney.
A determined detective…
Maggie is determined to keep her friend safe, but with Kate already struggling with a threatening stalker, Maggie now fears Kate’s life is in real danger. Who else would want to harm Kate and why else would the killer be turning his victims into exact replicas – his living dolls?
Can Maggie find the depraved killer? Or will Kate become his next living doll?
‘Hugely confident … harrowing, visceral … recommended’ Ian Rankin
‘Kept me hooked’ Angela Marsons
‘An excellent read’ Martina Cole
‘Gritty, dark and chilling’ Mel Sherratt
I really wanted to read this book because I very much enjoy Noelle Holten’s writing – she’s created an excellent central cast of characters, with intriguing and believable links and relationships between them, and the pace of her storytelling leaves me breathless. I will admit though that I was initially a tad disappointed that the sock to the gut at the end of the last book wasn’t sustained just a little longer – it’s not that I have anything against Kate Moloney, but the blurb had already given away the answer to that “is the body really her?” question.
But I soon got over that. The story that unfolds, the resemblance to Kate of the first and subsequent victims so well done, steadily cranking up the tension as the action moves in short snappy chapters between the struggling investigation team and the glimpses of the perpetrator doing his thing. As I don’t read many crime dramas, I was surprised to find that I identified the killer quite early on – I was actually quite pleased with myself! – but his motivation was what brought all the shocks and surprises.
Again though, what I really love about the author’s writing is her character development. I felt I knew Maggie fairly well by now, her immense pride in doing her job to the best of her abilities by crossing every “T” and dotting every “i”, but also following her well developed instincts. This case is rather closer to home and her heart though, and there are times when her judgement becomes clouded and she’s dangerously near the edge of behaving badly – and reacts particularly badly to being told she’s doing so, which felt entirely true to her character.
While I enjoyed again her working relationship with her DS and former colleague Nathan and with her DI, and her intriguing treading-on-eggshells relationship with Kate, there were two other characters that really drew my eye in this book. One was – perhaps most obviously – newspaper hack Julie, with a nice frenemies future storyline in the making despite the initial animosity between them. The other was PC Bethany Lambert, rather taken advantage of, always reliably in the background, picking up all the necessary and mundane tasks to back up the investigation – goodness, there really were times when it might have been better if she was running the show.
As before, the whole story is enhanced by the authenticity of those interactions between the different agencies – and the convincing feel of a real investigation in progress. I’ll say again (because it’s worth saying twice) that the way the story is told is excellent, taut and compelling – I’ll admit that I raced through it in a single sitting, and enjoyed it immensely (well, maybe except for a few of the more gruesome bits – but I am a bit of a wuss…). If all serial killer thrillers were reliably this good, I might read them rather more often – this was a winner for me, and highly recommended.
About the author
Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog.
Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK – is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.