Top critical review
nowhere near as good as the first 3 entries in the series.
15 August 2016
I read the first 2 Kim Stone novels on Saturday & the second two on Sunday. The first three novels were an easy 5 stars for me, but this one didn't live up to the previous three entries in the series. It was still a mostly entertaining read but not as original as the previous books & had problems.
For the first time in this series there were some parts that weren't that well written & weren't consistent with the character of DI Stone from the previous books.
There was one chapter where DI Stone was searching a house & she wasn't confident that anybody had made it home recently because the kettle hadn't been turned on. The author basically stated that everybody turns on their kettle as soon as they get through the door, even if they are carrying 50 shopping bags.... seriously???? I don't know anybody who does this & surely a police offer as intelligent, methodical & tenured as DI Stone has been so far in the series would never make such a ridiculous assumption. In the same scene she also states that when women pack before running from something they always pack their underwear first??? I considered closing the book after reading 2 such ridiculous statements so close together.
I have listed the spoilers from smallest to largest not in order of where they occur in the book to reduce the chance of someone accidentally reading the largest one. Please don't read any further if you don't want to know the identity of at least one person CI Stone is pursuing. I couldn't express my reason for the rating without highlighting these. I have tried to minimise the spoilers as much as possible while still explaining the rating.
1) I may have picked this up because I had just read novels 1 & 2 the day before but in the fight scene between Kim & Alex in Evil Games she uses almost the exact same simile (not verbatim) as in the fight scene at the end of this book when Kim is on top of the person she is fighting, comparing the position to what it feels like when she is riding her bike. 2 books later is too soon to be recycling.
2). The dumping of bodies at a body farm was used in season 3 of Law & Order SVU so not an original idea. Plus there was no real reason given as to why it had been selected as a dumping ground except that someone involved in the crimes had access to it. With 2 people dumped in the same spot it is clear that the killer wasn't trying to conceal them amongst other bodies so I can't understand the reason behind leaving them there. This is especially true when you consider there were multiple conversations throughout about why the location had been selected. I was expecting some sort of revelation like that had been the site of the killer's traumatic event, or where the house they had lived in with their mother had previously stood.
3) As soon as I read the section where the killer told the story of Louise looking at them while they were in the toilet cubicle it was clear to me that they were either a boy or hermaphrodite & had obviously been sent to school as a girl or they wouldn't be in the toilets with Louise & there wouldn't be anything strange for her to look at (inference being they were standing to urinate). So by the time DI Stone spoke to the 'Dinner Lady' it was not even a revelation that the killer was male.
4) In the scene where the killer was holding his last kidnapping victim hostage & going through his pre-killing ritual it reminded me of Silence of the Lambs. All that was missing was 'my precious' & a woman suit.
5) As soon as 'Duncan' appeared at the hospital things just didn't fit, I had his final identity in the plot pegged almost immediately. His entry into the story wasn't well written, the police didn't seem to investigate any of the info that he gave them or his background. This wouldn't be good police work, especially after he gave them a 'full name' for the victim who supposedly had a husband. If I was in DI Stone's position I would have given both men a background check & looked for the alleged 'husband' who had not reported his fictitious wife missing or shown up at the hospital. Even if his story of commencing divorce proceedings was true most people would expect a missing persons report or at least a call to the police or visit to the hospital from the 'husband'. This was a clear red flag to me that Duncan's story & the 'husband' were made up. I will however concede that I didn't pick who his 'partner in crime' was or who was responsible for the 2 murders of the men who had their hands removed.