Sunday 16 February 2020

Guest Review: Perfect Remains By Helen Fields

On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.
In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness…
Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.
It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

Review: This is the first of a series of crime novels written by Helen Fields featuring Detective Inspector Luc Callanach. I have read some of the later books in the series, so it was nice to read the beginning of the series. Luc Callanach is the son of a Scots father and a French mother. Following his father's death when Luc was young, he moved with his mother to France, eventually becoming a Police Officer working for Interpol in Lyon. In this book, we find out why, following an incident, Luc is obliged to leave Interpol and return to Scotland, where he joins Police Scotland's Major Investigation Team in Edinburgh. This causes some resentment with certain members of the squad, but he quickly finds an ally in Detective Inspector Ava Turner.

At the outset of the book, Ava is investigating a spate of babies abandoned in Edinburgh. Luc is thrown in at the deep end when a woman goes missing in Edinburgh and, shortly afterwards, a body is discovered in a burnt out bothy in the Cairngorms. As Luc and his team investigate, another woman goes missing. It therefore develops into a race against time before the body count mounts up. I found that the tension was maintained throughout the book and there were plenty of twists to the plot. This resulted in my wanting to keep reading and move on to each subsequent chapter to find out what happened next. I should add a warning that some of the violence was quite gruesome.

I don't know if I was reading too much into it, but there did appear to be a nod to the Ingmar Bergman film "The Seventh Seal" in that a game of chess features in both the film and this book. Like most works of crime fiction, some of the forensic science findings in this book seemed too good to be true. However, this is a minor criticism, and I found the book to be a thrilling, albeit graphic, account of major police investigations into a series of crimes.

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