Daily Archives: March 4, 2012

GIRL 4 by Will Carver

Published by Arrow Books.

The first three girls took a lot of planning, but even with my letters, my clues, the tip-offs, only one detective seemed concerned.

But they’ll take me seriously after Girl 4: They won’t have a choice.

How long will it take them to piece everything together?

I’ll give them everything they’ll need apart from the name.

GIRL 4. She changes EVERYTHING.

Detective Inspector January David has always put his professional before his private life, but now his two worlds clash horrifically as he visits his latest crime scene. Confronted with a ghostly figure suspended ten feet above a theatre stage, blood pouring from her face into a coffin below, January feels sure this gruesome execution scene is the work of an elusive serial killer.

But Girl 4 is different: She is alive – barely. And January David recognises her.

Three women from three different London suburbs, each murdered with elaborate and chilling precision. And as January stares at the latest body, he detects the killer’s hallmark. If he wants to save his own neck and ensure that there’s never a Girl 5, January must get inside the mind of a serial killer and beat him at his own game . . . 

The serial killer genre is a pretty well trod and, for the most part, tired place to be – so it’s so refreshing when something like ‘Girl 4′ comes along. As with Steve Mosby’s ’50/50 Killer’, this debut by Will Carver presents a sinister and fresh spin on the sub-genre and invites us to join his series character on this, his debut investigation on the page.

I realise I’m late to this (Girl 4 was published last year) but the buzz already surrounding it and the forthcoming second book to feature Detective Inspector January David (what a great name) ‘The Two’ forced me to pick it up and see what the fuss was all about – I am SO glad I did. Well, glad but for one reason to be truthful, as ‘Girl 4’ is the book I wish I could have written and Will Carver writes in a way that had me from the first page and made this wannabe author feel like throwing my current project in the general direction of the circular filing cabinet at my feet. I loved January David as a character and was so pleased to read his name in the short teaser for ‘The Two’ at the back of ‘Girl 4’, he has a great surrounding cast and a mysterious past to go with it. A great haunted cop, with visions of crime scenes played out to him by ‘the smiling man’, like something ripped from the best of John Connolly’s work but made very much his own.

I found the timeframe of the book really effective with its flashbacks to voices of earlier and (without wanting to spoil things) later victims intermixed with the voices of January, his wife to be, Audrey, and the killer, Eames. The scenes where January struggles to balance his homelife and upcoming marriage with the escalating investigation are well played with even some room for humour amongst some very sinister set pieces. And, it’s those theatrical set executions that really leave the mark on the reader as well as on the central character.

I seriously hope this is the beginning of a very long series – it very much deserves to be.

Seek out ‘Girl 4’ here.

And you can pre-order ‘The Two’ here.

Keith

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Sorry by Zoran Drvenkar (translated from the German by Shaun Whiteside)

Published by Blue Door Books

You can say you’re sorry.

You can say it a hundred times.

But to the dead it doesn’t mean very much.

ONE. TWO. THREE. That’s all it takes to drive the nail into her head, to leave her hanging on the wall. She deserved to die. Now all he needs is absolution for his sins, and he knows Just the people who can help.

If sorry seems to be the hardest word,

then let us say it for you

Kris, Tamara, Wolf and Frauke. Four friends with one big idea: an agency called Sorry. Unfair dismissals, the wrongly accused: everyone has a price, and Sorry will find out what it is. It’s as simple as that.

But they didn’t count on their next client being a killer.

Standing face to face with a brutally murdered woman, the philosophy that has brought them so much success sounds hollow. But who is the killer and why has he killed her? Someone is mocking them for playing God and hell is only just beginning.

This book has been taunting me for months, daring me to take it down from the shelf and open it. In many ways at time it made me think back to Clive Barker’s  ‘Mister B. Gone’, a book that dares you to enter and at times drags you in so deep that you fear you’ll not get back out again. This cast of characters have a superb scheme and, in these days of companies setting up to offer all manner of things that years ago would have seemed nonsense, the whole concept of their organisation seems remarkably plausible.

The injection of a killer as their next client and the hold he has over them, shown through photos of their loved ones, threatens their company, their sanity and their very existence. The multiple viewpoints adopted throughout the story works for the most part, despite tripping me up on more than a few occasions and causing me to lose my way.  However, the inclusion of ‘YOU’ as a character and reading your own viewpoint is a clever tool to ensure that those pages will keep turning as the reader joins the other four main cast members on their downward spiral which seems destined to destroy everything and everyone involved.

From its stark black on white (or white on black) cover versions through to its unusual and daring narrative, this is dark dark stuff and I make no apology for suggesting you seek it out. So go here and do so.

Keith

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