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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spider Trap. Barry Maitland. EuroCrime (2006)

A very enjoyable police procedural, with a strong plot and a very engaging cast. The discovery of two murdered girls leads by accident to the discovery of three skeletons buried on some wasteland. The investigation is headed by Detective Chief Inspector David Brock and Detective Sergeant Kathy Kolla. The investigation soon find that the old crime may have links to a very dangerous criminal, Spider Roach. Brock had encountered Roach before and realises just how difficult his potential involvement could make the investigation. An officer on loan from the Special Branch is making life complicated for Kathy Kolla. The plot unfurls very nicely, the reveals are cleverly staged, the violent set piece at the climax is slightly out of place with the rest of the book, the final conclusion is grimly effective.
This is a really well structured book, Barry Maitland gives his large cast a very significant problem and they attempt to resolve it is credible and gripping ways. Spider Roach is a malign shadow, manipulating events from the shadows and rarely taking a direct route when an indirect one gets a result. DCI Brock and DS Kolla are trying to manage an investigation within the constraints of the police force while not stepping on one of Roach's landmines. The threads of the two investigations, the two murdered girls and the skeletons, mix and overlap in interesting ways.
One of the pleasures of the book is the way the extended cast, including a local, black MP are drawn into the plot and the scale of Spider Roach's reach starts to become apparent.With such a ferocious, clever villain at the heart of the plot gives the book great momentum, Brock & Kolla have to be smart, imaginative and resourceful to deal with him. They and the book are all that and more, a pleasure.

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