Time for another rare visit to the dark side – and it’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour and sharing my review of Dead Mercy, the fifth in the DC Maggie Jamieson series by Noelle Holten. Published for kindle by One More Chapter on 19th November, the paperback will follow on 20th January (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).
This is a series that just gets better and better with every book, although I’ll admit that I wasn’t too sure at first that it’d be the series for me. When I read and reviewed (and unexpectedly really enjoyed) the first in the series, Dead Inside (you’ll find that review here), I thought I might not be back for more – anything too graphic does have a tendency to give me nightmares (yes, I am a bit of a wuss…!). But I just couldn’t resist reading the second, Dead Wrong – yes, there were plenty of randomly discovered body parts, but I loved it every bit as much (you’ll find my review here). And that trademark cliffhanger ending meant I then just had to read the third, Dead Perfect – and found it every bit as taut and compelling (and wonderfully written) as the first two books (review here). Then came Dead Secret – I’d long decided to stop resisting the tug of the series and its wonderfully developed characters – and yes, I loved that one too (you’ll find my review here). This is a series where I’ve grown to look forward to every new book – and I couldn’t wait to get stuck into the next instalment…
A brutal murder…
When a burned body is found with its teeth missing, DC Maggie Jamieson discovers that the victim may be the husband of one of her probation colleagues.
A dark history…
As the body count rises, the team becomes increasingly baffled by how the victims could possibly be connected until a clue leads them to a historical case that was never prosecuted.
A terrible secret…
In order to catch the killer, Maggie must piece together what happened all those years ago before it’s too late.
‘Hugely confident … harrowing, visceral … recommended’ Ian Rankin on Dead Inside
There’s another serial killer on the loose – or if Dr Kate’s right with her profiling and victimology, perhaps there might just be more than one. But from the story that unfolds as the police team and the other agencies they work with peel back the layers, it’s clear someone is looking for justice – there are clues from the way the victims are selected and their bodies treated that point towards a series of wrongs from the past and an almost understandable thirst for revenge. The whole investigation forms the backbone of the book, and it’s all quite wonderfully done, with all the meticulous work to establish the links and avoid the blind alleys they’re sometimes led down – all those small breakthroughs that set them back on the path to uncovering their killer, the many hours of sheer slog and the mental exhaustion that ensues, and the challenges of working with a range of other agencies who all have their own rules and agendas.
As always, what I really love about the author’s writing is her characterisation. DC Maggie Jamieson always draws the eye – with that focus and determination that often makes her a touch (mmm, maybe more than a touch…) abrasive around her colleagues, although I particularly loved the development of her working relationship with partner Cat and her constant sparring with boss Nathan as he struggles to rein her in. Her vulnerability is again in evidence though – I really enjoy the glimpses of her personal life with her concerns about her brother, her uneasy early relationship with journalist Julie (brought in to work more closely with the team this time – that proves difficult!), and all the small domestic detail that helps make her a really well-rounded character.
The police team and the relationships between them is exceptionally well done – I’ve always been rather a fan of DI Rutherford, now carrying an even heavier workload after the events of the last book, and her personal story develops a little further. And I’ve always been really taken with Bethany – her reluctance to move into the spotlight, the quiet hours she spends at her computer digging out the detail, establishing the facts. And there’s always an exceptional feeling of authenticity about the procedural side of things – all those little interactions with other agencies, the friendships that have developed, the trading of favours as Maggie tries to push the boundaries that hamper progress.
And in this book, I also enjoyed the quiet voice of the killer as they home in on their next victim – and there’s that constant ambivalence between sympathy for the reasons balanced by the horror of the trail of murder and mutilation they create. The final outcome is very satisfying – the climactic scenes are real edge-of-the-seat reading, wonderfully dramatic – and I really didn’t see it coming. But the whole story really is quite perfectly paced – short chapters (something I always rather like in a thriller – that irresistible urge to read “just one more” as you head into the early hours…), tension and anticipation that have your heart racing, but also that perfect balance between the grinding monotony of the nuts and bolts of the investigation and the fireworks and explosions that interrupt it.
You’ll know that crime thrillers really aren’t my usual reading, but I entirely love this series – this book was better than ever, and I’m already looking forward to the next one. Highly recommended to all.
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.