My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 2 days
Pages - 304
Publisher - Constable
Source - Bought
Detective Inspector Avison Fluke is a man on the edge. He has committed a crime to get back to work, concealed a debilitating illness and is about to be made homeless. Just as he thinks things can’t get any worse, the body of a young woman is found buried on a wet, Cumbrian building site.
Shot once in the back of the head, execution style, it is a cold, calculated murder. When the post-mortem reveals she has gone to significant expense in disguising her appearance, and the only clue to her identity is a strange series of numbers, Fluke knows this is no ordinary murder.
With the help of a psychotic ex-Para, a gangland leader and a woman more interested in maggots than people, Fluke must find out who she was and why she was murdered before he can even think about finding her killer. As the body count rises and his investigation takes him from poverty stricken estates to picture perfect Lake District villages, he realises his troubles are only just beginning.
Because someone, somewhere has a plan and if Fluke can’t figure out what’s happening, he may just be next.
So I came to Craven's books with the Tilly and Poe series and I LOVE them so I was a bit cautious approaching this because I can be a pie like that. You know what I mean like you enjoy something so much so when you try something different by the same author you can be biased against it. Anyways, Fluke is a cop (detective inspector) and manages a team of misfits, we don't see too much of them in this book but his partner Towler is ex army or marine, I like him. He is nuts, an absolute machine of a man, fantastic at what he does and has some mouth on him, if swearing upsets you this isn't the book for you. There was one line "Listen, you little tit," I was howling, the character isn't Scottish but I heard it in a Scottish accent and haven't heard someone insult someone calling them a wee tit in years! The character is brilliantly brutal and he isn't even the main dude. Anyway, back to Fluke, we know quickly there is something wrong with him but he is back at work, pushing on and folk don't know, nor do we what is wrong with him. As the book progresses I was so impressed by the realism of a lot of the medical stuff and actually the author has been through the mill, medically, himself and the authenticity of that really shows in those parts of the book.
The opening chapter is brutal/graphic and quite dark, the male prostitute who witnesses a body dump and there begins our story. The body is passed to Fluke's team because the higher ups don't think it is going to be anything more than maybe a domestic however it turns out to be an execution (no spoilers its on the back cover) and things really kick off. I also liked the in depth chat on how they work out information with bugs/flies/maggots etc information from a dead body and how that helps with the investigation.
The book bounces between the investigation and Fluke trying to do his job whilst battling a condition he is keeping from his colleagues. It is a pretty dark, twisted thriller and book one of two (I checked Fantastic Fiction) and will be getting the second one. I hope we get to know more of the team but Fluke and Towler make for good reading, 4/5.