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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Dark Redemption. Stav Sherez. Faber and Faber (2012)

A very engaging and enjoyable murder story that builds steadily to a unforgiving conclusion. A student from Uganda is murdered and mutilated in London. Detective Inspector Jack Carrigan and Detective Sergeant Geneva Miller find that their investigation leads them into the world of illegal immigrants in London as well as the history brutal civil war in Uganda. The investigation leads to to professionally and personal treacherous directions and the pressure on Carrigan and Miller steadily increases until the price for the past is finally paid in full.
The plot mechanics are astounding, the various threads are pulled together into a gripping and horrifying way that are credible and bitterly satisfying. Stav Sherez uses the story possibilities raised by the death of a foreign national in London, a student whose field of study is fantastically sensitive for a large number of reasons really well. The implications of the death draw in a number of powerful interested parties who want to ensure that the investigation doers not stray off a preferred course. This mix of politics and police procedural is very effective, it creates a sustained tension within the story as different aims start to create friction and increase the pressure.
Lying underneath this is the personal history of Jack Corrigan and the consequences of an impulsive decision taken years before. Those consequences are still following Corrigan and as they investigation starts to get closer to the the truth, those consequences start to have an increasingly significant impact. This proves to be a very engaging way to satisfy a genre staple of giving the lead character some awkward baggage, Stav Sherez uses it skilfully to draw in Geneva Miller and to entangle her int the consequences as well. This gives him to room to develop both the characters and credibly build close quarters conflict between them that they have to both disguise from each other and manage.
The context, ranging from Uganda in the Days of Blood to the sub-culture of illegal immigrants is tightly woven into the story, it is never just exotic window dressing. The intersection between national and personal interest as well as the frightful legacy of extreme violence are quietly explored without ever being taken lightly. The cast are never submerged by the powerful context, they are entangled in it and never just puppets to the possibilities of the plot. They are all forcefully acting on their own intentions and the mix between the two makes for a powerful story.

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