Luther: The Calling by Neil Cross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hard-boiled. That's what they used to call this sort of thing. I guess they still do. In any event, this is hard-boiled, even brutal, detective fiction. Sparse, hard-hitting prose. Gritty, realistic characters and settings. Bad, bad, bad guys. Basically decent, but driven cops that sometimes cross the line in order to get the bad guys and protect the innocent. Classic hard-boiled.
DCI (that's Detective Chief Inspector - this is a British novel, through and through) John Luther first came to life as a television character for the BBC. This novel, written by the show's creator and writer, is a prequel to the series, showing that the detective was just as driven, just as brilliant, before those episodes. It also shows a man tormented to the point that he cannot sleep and he can no longer connect with his wife. He is a driven man. Driven to use his powers of deduction and insight to find a serial killer. A killer that is stealing children for purposes that are beyond the imaginings of even DCI Luther. From page one you know he will not let up until he tracks down the fiend. Until the last page you do not know if he will succeed or destroy himself trying. Or perhaps both.
This is top-flight writing. As I said above, the prose is sparse and hard hitting and will keep you turning pages. Not a book for the squeamish. It's written in the present tense, which adds to the immediacy and probably reflects its origins in television. Highly recommended for those that can take it.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review.
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