*I received an arc via the publisher in return for an honest review*
Cause Of Death by Peter Ritchie
DCI Grace Macallan’s career has hit a serious roadblock. When a covert police operation in Northern Ireland goes badly wrong, she’s faced with a painful decision – lie to save a young officer’s career or tell the truth and ruin her own reputation. For Grace, there can be only one answer.
Reassigned to the newly formed Lothian & Borders Major Crime Team, Grace Macallan is forced to rebuild her career and her reputation. But when a brutal attack on a prostitute turns into a series of murders, the Major Crime Team is under serious pressure. The tabloid headlines are lurid and the team badly needs a result.
With a new life to build in a new city, a new boss as smooth as an 18-year-old malt and a very high profile lawyer as the chief suspect, Grace soon begins to wonder if telling the truth is always the right thing to do.
This is a cracking new series that has an incredibly complex debut! DCI Grace Macallan is the protagonist, a woman with a background that reaches all the way to the troubles of Northern Ireland. The novel starts out detailing both her recent move to the new major crime team in Scotland and her past in NI. So it is difficult to keep up with all the characters and the location/time frame shifting mid-chapter.
But it is very well done by the author.
We learn that Macallan’s time in NI was far from rosy and she was deployed in an operation that went badly wrong. It resulted in a death and the finger of suspicion pointed firmly at a police officer. I don’t want to go into too much detail on the NI conflict described in the novel. As the author has done a fantastic job himself.
But it is does detail all side of the conflict and that there truly were ‘no clean hands’.
“That was what she hated most – the deceit practised on all sides of the conflict and at every level from politicians down”.
We go on to learn more about Macallan and her background and how the conflict and resulting consequences of her actions in NI haunts her. Having witness deaths and lost the love of her life. She is a broken woman, seeking a new life, in a new unit, a fresh start. She is desperate to be liked and respected by the team. It isn’t long until her hard work, intelligence and detective skills show and she is a solid member of the team.
She is partnered with DS Harkins, a renowned drinker but good copper!
It isn’t long until the team have their first case when a local ex-military thug, puts together a team to rob Chinese restaurants owners. However, knowing the suspect is guilty as sin and proving it are two different things all together! The team have to act quick to outwit the team and gather evidence. I felt this was a fantastic portrayal of how the police actually work!
With my bestie being a Met detective, it was reminiscent of cases she has told me about.
Prostitute Pauline Johnson is a working girl with a smack habit. Her whole life had been on track for success until at just 16yrs old. She was preyed upon by a man who got her into the drug/prostitution lifestyle. When she is stacked and left for dead, the team are made aware of the case. Pauline is in a very bad way, she faces a future of life-ling disfigurement and possible brain damage. O’Connor, Macallan’s boss references a pattern of cases against other young working girls across parts of the country.
Is this a pattern? Who is attacking these women? Will is escalate to murder?
There are some eerie chapters from the killers, point of view. They do not give away whom he is. But detail his thoughts and intentions. They are not for the faint hearted!
Macallan and Harkins bond over drinks at a local bar. She tells his about NI and he in turn shares war stories from his policing days. When a second body is found Prostitute Helen Stevenson, the team is called in! Only this victim is dead and it is a murder scene. The murder carries similarities between this and the attack on Pauline. Someone is targeting the working girls with violently savage beatings!
Macallan decides to visit the first victim Pauline in the ICU and see if she can gather any evidence. Communicating solely through blinks and for yes/no. Macallan manages to gather some information. But is it enough to solve the case?
Then the killer pays Pauline a visit in the hospital…….
The media swarm the case and the bodies begin to start piling up! The team think they have the perfect suspect. But he isn’t just any suspect he is slick anti-police advocate Jonathan Barclay QC.
The relationships between the coppers intensifies and it makes for a great plot! The character of Macallan develops throughout the novel. I think she is a cracking new protagonist in the crime fiction series! Mixing Macallan’s past and present displays a depth usually seen in an experienced writer! Making this one hell of a debut!
This novel will take you right into the depths of the killers hatred. 4*
via Publisher: http://blackandwhitepublishing.com/authors/r/peter-ritchie.html