The most violent thunderstorm in living memory occurs above a sleepy village on the West Coast of Scotland. A young couple take shelter in the woods, never to be seen again…
DCI Jack Russell is brought in to investigate. Nearing retirement, he agrees to undertake one last case, which he believes can be solved as a matter of routine. But what Jack discovers in the forest leads him to the conclusion that he is following in the footsteps of a psychopath who is just getting started. Jack is flung headlong into a race against time to prevent the evolution of a serial killer…
A debut novel from author Ian Skewis, I had a hard time getting through this book. Despite issues I had with some of the writing the story itself is intriguing and well-spun, enough to keep me interested.
The character Alice is magnificent: the authors description of the experience of alzheimer’s is absolutely heart-wrenching. We can truly feel the character’s panic and désespoir at her worsening condition:
” It made her angry, frustrated, and she was about to slam her fist against the sink when she found that she had a trowel in her hand. She stared at it, as if it had suddenly materialised. Blinking furiously, she heard the sound of seagulls crying in the distance, felt the wind billow around her slight frame, teasing at the corners of her faded white dress. She was outside.”
There are many passages that clearly illustrate Skewis’ writing skill:
“As the ground rushed up to meet him, he was struck by the unfairness of it all – he didn’t stand a chance. He lay there on broken bracken and saw the debris of the gale flying over him, and he imagined Caroline’s beautiful face, and the unreal way her long, blonde hair seemed to writhe in the wind. Lost her again, he thought sadly. My story is ending. And then he saw her guide his hand to her belly and he was overwhelmed with desolation. I’ll never see my own child. As his synapses closed down and the river disappeared into darkness, he was inundated by once-forgotten memories: his father closing the garden gate behind him; his mother staring wistfully at the sea.”
However, it almost feels like assembling brilliant parts into a whole story was an issue. Chapter (scene) changes feel too abrupt and unfinished. Too frequent. I assume this is intended to give the novel a fast pace, but it’s too much. It makes it hard to concentrate on the story and feels like channel surfing. The relationship between the two main detectives feels like it’s missing something, as if the reader has begun a series in the middle. Too much unexplained animosity, which is then tied too neatly, too easily.
The final part of the book feels rushed, like a mad dash to tie up all the loose ends, while at the same time leaving many questions (which I assume would be answered in the hinted at sequel).
All in all, I give this book a 6/10, and do recommend reading it. As stated, the story is very intriguing, though oddly paced and put-together. I look forward to reading future books from this author.