Saturday 18 August 2018

Guest Review: Perfect Silence by Helen Fields

When silence falls, who will hear their cries?
The body of a young girl is found dumped on the roadside on the outskirts of Edinburgh. When pathologists examine the remains, they make a gruesome discovery: the silhouette of a doll carved in the victim’s skin.
DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are struggling to find leads in the case, until a doll made of skin is found nestled beside an abandoned baby.
After another young woman is found butchered, Luc and Ava realise the babydoll killer is playing a horrifying game. And it’s only a matter of time before he strikes again. Can they stop another victim from being silenced forever – or is it already too late?

Review: This is the fourth in a series of crime novels written by Helen Fields featuring Detective Inspector Luc Callanach, seconded to Police Scotland's Major Investigation Team in Edinburgh. I hadn't read any of the previous series and, although this latest entry can be read as a standalone thriller, the previous books in the series would have given a little more background to the main characters than that alluded to in this book.

A series of gruesome attacks has occurred in Edinburgh and the book describes the investigations of Detective Inspector Callanach, together with his superior Detective Chief Inspector Ava Turner and the rest of the Major Investigation Team, to apprehend the perpetrator as the body count mounts up. It therefore develops into a race against time, and I found that the tension was maintained throughout the book. This, together with the fact that each chapter was relatively short, meant that I wanted to keep reading and move on to each subsequent chapter to find out what happened next.

The action is set in Edinburgh, and both the good and seamier sides of the city are described. I don't know if I was reading too much into it, but there did appear to be a nod to the infamous West Port murders that occurred in the city in the 19th century, in that bizarre "trophies" feature in both sets of crimes. One thing that I did find surprising is that the dialogue featured very few Scottish colloquialisms and, indeed, there were a few Americanisms present.

I thought that the characters were very well drawn, and we get to see the private side of some of them. I particularly liked one detective sergeant who was very much of the old school and spoke whatever was on his mind without caring whether or not it was politically correct. Most of the time it was not. Like most works of crime fiction, the distinction between forensic pathologist and forensic scientist was blurred. These are two separate professions. I found the pathologist in this book, at times, too good to be true, in that he seemed to combine the roles of crime scene examiner, forensic pathologist, forensic scientist and fingerprint expert. 

However, the above are minor criticisms, and I found the book to be a thrilling, and graphic, account of a major police investigation into a series of crimes.

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