Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A J Cross - Gone in Seconds

In which I discover that I like my serial killers to be not too close to home!

Gone in Seconds is the first in what will be a series of books featuring Dr Kate Hanson.  It's a debut novel by a forensic psychologist, and it's about...a forensic psychologist.  Well, that's fine. It lends an air of authority to the book. I mean she must know what she's talking about, right.

So this is a thriller set in the West MIdlands and it's about a Cold Case Unit formed of the police and this forensic psychologist who works with them.  I had no idea that was possible - she seems to be part of the police team, not just someone they consult from time to time. Anyway I guess the writer knows, for the reason stated above, plus I am prepared to accept this even if it's not likely for the sake of fiction.

So, the plot is about the discovery of the remains of a young woman who disappeared  five years before from a local shopping centre.  The cold case team have to reopen the old case, for which no-one was ever arrested. This brings a lot of hostility from the previous investigaing officer who is now their superior.  Dr Kate Hanson determines from the evidence that the killer might be  a "repeater" and that there might be other unsolved cases, other undiscovered bodies. 

I liked this book.  I liked the character of Kate and her relationships with the rest of the team and with her family. She was believeable and I can see that she will evolve with the series and become a more rounded character.  The plot was well structured and she quite cleverly leads the reader up the garden path with some well-placed red herrings.  She ties the various strands up nicely at the end while leaving the door open for the next book.  I think I learned something about forensic psychologists too, including how they've moved on but TV portrayals have got stuck in the past with profiles and signatures and all those things you hear about in Criminal Minds.  I bet she hates Criminal Minds

I felt the book was a good reflection of the West Midlands where it was set.  In fact that turned out to be the only problem I had with this book.  One of the victims disappeared from a nightclub in Wolverhampton and I thought to myself that my daughter goes to nightclubs there, so really I'd rather not read about a serial killer stalking young girls there. And one possible victim had disappeared from Walsall which is where I live and work.  And that was all a little too close to home for me.  Much as I like fictional serial killers and like to read about them in places that I recognise, and I loved watching Morse when I lived in Oxford so I could spot places I knew, it turns out that I prefer my serial killers not to operate in my neighbourhood. It seems I'm a serial killer NIMBY. Who knew?

Gone in Seconds is available now in hardback and trade paperback.

I was reading a proof copy, kindly supplied by Orion.

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