>> Sunday, August 05, 2012
Lacey Flint is a Detective Constable who, despite her fascination with Jack the Ripper, has never worked a big case or seen a dead body up close. Until now...As she leaves a south London estate one night, she is horrified to find a woman has been viciously stabbed, right next to Lacey's car. Thrown headlong into her first murder hunt, Lacey's quiet life changes overnight. Then Lacey receives a familiar hand-delivered letter, written in red blood, and it is clear the police have a Ripper copycat on their hands. Lacey must be the bait if they are to prevent a second, brutal murder. But can this inexperienced DC outwit a killer whose infamous role model has never been found?Lacey Flint is a novice Detective Constable, working for the London Metropolitan Police. She's not spectacularly good or spectacularly bad, just your average DC, investigating your average day-to-day crimes. Until, that is, the day she comes out after a routine interview with a witness in a council estate and stumbles upon a dying woman, right next to her car. The woman has been stabbed in the stomach, so badly that for h,er to still be alive, the attack had to have happened only seconds earlier.
Within hours, a journalist receives a letter that throws the whole department into an uproar, and that moves Lacey firmly from witness to a much more involved role. The letter suggests a killer intending to emulate Jack the Ripper's murders, and it mentions Lacey by name. Clearly she has caught the killer's eye, but as the case continues and the horrors start piling up, Lacey starts to realise that it wasn't just a matter of her being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nope, there's something in her past that's very relevant to these crimes.
It feels kind of wrong to say I "enjoyed" a book as graphic and dark as this one, but what can I say, I totally did. I confess I was a bit disturbed by some of the descriptions of the crimes (these might have been a tiny bit more gruesome than they strictly needed to be), but I was able to get past this, and enjoy the ride.
I think what I liked best about the book was the twistiness of the plot. You know from the very beginning that there's something more to Lacey than what she shows to her colleagues, but even though the book is narrated from her point of view, you don't quite know what it is. This is done in a way that feels natural, not like the author is manipulating us, and the information comes out oh-so-slowly, at the perfect times. I kept coming to conclusion after conclusion, and then being proved wrong every single time. Bolton played me like a fiddle, but she did it so well and I enjoyed the ride so much, that I don't even resent it.
In addition to the plot, there was plenty more to like. The London setting was vivid and real. It's not the tourist view of London, but a much rawer, rougher side of the city, and I thought it was brilliantly done. I also appreciated how the cops here are not idealised. They're not the perfect, 100% dedicated, 100% fair cops in, say, the JD Robb books (which, don't get me wrong, I love). These people are far from perfect. They mean well and are willing to work hard to solve the case and stop the murders, but a lot of them are prejudiced assholes, who bring their prejudices to the investigation, and Lacey isn't always necessarily treated fairly.
I also found it interesting to have the case narrated by someone who's really junior, the lowest-ranking in the team. It's a different perspective from the usual one, who tends to be the lead detective, someone with some power. Lacey doesn't have much of that, and sometimes she doesn't know all the threads of the investigation. The centrality of her involvement in the case is only because the murderer focusses on her so clearly, otherwise she'd probably just be running around knocking on doors and tracing purchases. This was different, and really interesting to read.
I've got only two complaints. The first is that the book felt overly long, like it could have been pruned a bit. Also, there's a bit of a romance there that never really gelled for me -just no chemistry there. Other than that, really good, and for a bonus, a Jack the Ripper theory I'd never heard before, and one that actually makes sense!
MY GRADE: A B.