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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Die With Me. Elena Forbes. Quercus (2007)

An engaging cast and a well judged take on the police investigation makes this a very enjoyable story. A young girl meets a man at a small church in London and later is found dead, it looks like suicide. As it becomes clear that it may not have been suicide after all Detective Inspector Mark Tartaglia suspects that it is not an isolated incident and his investigations reveal that there may be other victims and that an unsuspected serial killer is at work. Having a new senior officer put in over his head to manage the investigation creates tension and discontent within the investigative team and the killer continues to pursue his victims. The reveals are very well staged and the structure of the book allows the plot threads to be given time and attention. While the conclusion does not quite have the desired bite, the book is gripping and enjoyable.
Elena Forbes refreshes the story of a clever serial killer and the investigation by giving the investigation a nice layer of internal conflict that is grounded in the cast themselves. When Detective Chief Inspector Steele is put in charge of the investigation she is not sure if she is being set up for success or failure, the bad start fractures the investigation from the outset. With this Elena Forbes manages to generate considerable stress and tension within the investigation without having to rely on genre stand-byes like an incompetent superior, much more effective motives like hurt pride and poor communication give a better result. When trouble strikes at the heart of the investigation, the results of the personal friction adds a bitter edge that sharpens the outcome very much.
The killer is given space to develop and emerge, not as a brilliant killer rather he is a predator on the lonely and the vulnerable, he is clever only because his careful choice of victim makes him so. It is hard to give any serial killer a genuine depth due to the fact that they are naturally monotonous, their focus is on killing and they do not have much of an emotional range or context. In this case the killer's process is very well thought out and has a nasty believability to it.
The wider supporting cast are very well drawn, they have clear individual voices and emerge as fully fledged characters. With the killer using suicide as a cover, Elena Forbes looks at why suicide was plausible and deals with care and compassion with the topic and does not use it as a handy prop only.
The story stumbles at the conclusion, it is not glued on, it does arise naturally from the story it just needed to be a little less well trodden. Very well written and entertaining.

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