Captured by Neil Cross

Published by Simon & Schuster

Can Neil Cross do no wrong?

The evidence suggests maybe not.

I’ve been a fan of his great storytelling in BBC’s SPOOKS series for some time and, more recently, really enjoyed his detective series LUTHER (SECOND SERIES STARTS TOMORROW NIGHT! – and a new prequel novel is due from the author too) starring Eldris Elba from The Wire.

But, I have neglected the other strand to this creative force – his novels.

Now, having experienced the all-consuming new book, CAPTURED, that is set to change and I will be seeking out all of his other books trusting that they are also as good as this.

It’s been a while since I picked up a book intending to read maybe the first chapter before sleep and finding that I was 65 pages in without remembering to blink between those pages.

In CAPTURED he kicks off with a great young character, Kenny, and a numbing realisation that he is living on borrowed time with an aggressive brain tumour threatening to snatch him away from his life within weeks.

Kenny doesn’t start off angry – instead he writes a short list – a list of people he feels he needs to make things up with, before he leaves.

In a way it’s like his bucket list, but a list of appreciation he needs to show, of people who have shaped his life.

He begins with a young boy who he witnessed at risk of abduction years before and then a shopkeeper who chased the would-be abductor away – he just wishes he had done more at the time, but the guilt is his own and everyone else has forgotten the event which still seems so important to him.

His ex-lover Mary also appears on the list, as does the most important name on it, Callie Barton – a girl he knew at school, the girl who used to hook her leg round his under the desk – as close to a childhood sweetheart as he likely had.

And it is when Kenny begins to look for Callie that the story really kicks into overdrive and Kenny’s anger strikes.

Callie has gone missing.

Her husband, Jonathan Reese, although cleared of any involvement and denying any wrong doing, appears to be hiding a secret.

Kenny’s time is running out and his quest to find the answer and to punish whoever is responsible for Callie’s disappearance or possible murder grows in his head as fast as the tumour alongside it.

There are some brutal scenes within the novel – as the cover would suggest – but this does not quite step into the ‘torture porn’ that the same excesses would or might create on screen. We as readers sympathise with Kenny’s situation and we are right beside him as he does what he feels he needs to do to further his investigation and search for the truth.

An unsettling, at times moving, and thought-provoking crime book and a demonstration on just how far a normal guy can be forced to go to search for justice and to find out what has happened to someone who meant so much to him all during his final weeks of life.

Highly recommended.



Filed under Book Review

2 responses to “Captured by Neil Cross

  1. I agree that this is a creepily clever book. It seemed quite slight when I was reading it but I have not forgotten it. I am very sensitive to “torture porn” and books whose author/publishers trade on awful ritualised deaths and murders to get people to read them (not me!) and I agree with your take that this book did not step over any lines.

    • Thanks for the comment, Maxine, and glad we’re in agreement.
      Must confess, I still have ‘Burial’ – considered to be one of his very best – lined up to read – must get to that soon (whilst I wait for the Luther prequel novel)…

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