A suitcase is dragged from the Thames and on opening the body of a man is discovered, head, arms, legs all severed and placed carefully within the confines of the case...."They paused, all staring at the battered naked body, at how neatly the pieces had been packed inside: a leg each side of the torso; the knee joints folded into the top right and bottom left corner; arms crossed over the chest and the decapitated head tucked neatly underneath."..... What a wonderful, gruesome start and introduction to the charismatic, headstrong Detective Chief Inspector Erika Foster. So with the help of her close associate Detective Inspector Kate Moss (not that Kate Moss!) the two police officers need to discover the perpetrator of this gruesome murder made all the more grisly when a second body is discovered in similar circumstances. At the same time a young Nina Hargreaves falls under the charismatic influence of the psychotic Max Kirkham as they embark on a murderous journey
Although I loved this fast paced thriller I did find that the characters of Max and Nina reminded me so much of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley ( both are mentioned twice in the novel) First we have the adulation of a young girl influence by her boyfriend and eager to please him whatever the cost. Hindley was infatuated by Brady on first meeting this lonely odd looking young man at Millward's Merchandise Gorton. Mention is made of Max's love of books.."It took five car loads to get all the books into the flat.." Ian Brady regarded himself as well read the Russian writer Dostoevsky, with his explorations of human psychology, was a particular favourite,he highly regarded Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. The use of a van to transport innocent children lured to their destiny by false kindness of an attractive woman, this occurs later in the story. Nina Hargreaves also kept a diary including much detail about their crimes, Ian Brady infamously kept notes, pictures and even maps of the Moors in his private collection. By referring to this in my review I am not in any way criticizing the author, merely making an assumption based on my reading.
To me the mark of a good book is the author's ability to create and project strong characters that have a lasting impact on me the reader. Erika Foster is a wonderful, passionate driven individual with a questionable personal life. Her boyfriend Inspector James Peterson's is on sick leave recovering from a knife wound that Erika feels is entirely her fault...."The blue and green light cast by the television played over his skinny face. His high cheekbones jutted out, and she could see the outline of the bones under his forehead."..... Superintendent Melanie Hudson is her immediate superior "a tough cookie" but keen to support her officers when asked. Naturally there is an assortment of career minded police officers, Commander Paul Marsh (Erika has a secret admiration for him) and the unapproachable Superintendent Paris worried about the affect of Erika's actions on his political ambitions.
This is the type of crime novel that is eminently readable, with a fast driven theme and lively dialogue. It is perhaps not wise to read a series out of order but I am looking forward to reading the first four Erika Forster books in the very near future. Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.