Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Book review: Pitch Black - Alex Gray

Pitch Black (Detective Lorimer Series Book 5) by [Gray, Alex]

Title: Pitch Black

Author: Alex Gray

Genre: Thriller

Ranking: 7.5 out of 10.0

Buy: Maybe

Borrow: Yes

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005KKWBOS/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Summary:  When Chief Inspector Lorimer returns from his holiday on the island of Mull, he feels a satisfying sense of calm. But it doesn't last long. Kelvin Football Club's new star midfielder is found stabbed to death in his home and, with his wife apprehended trying to leave the country, a seemingly straightforward case begins. 

But the murder of a referee soon after a Kelvin match throws light on some dark secrets at the ground. And when the latest signing to the club becomes the next victim, Lorimer knows there's a serial killer on the loose. As lies emerge and tensions build, the players and managers live under the constant threat of becoming the next Kelvin fatality.

Main review: 
Pitch Black opens with a footballer's wife, Janis Faulkner, escaping the scene of her abusing husband's murder. Her path crosses that of DCI Lorimer of Strathclyde Police as he and his wife Maggie return from a holiday in Mull. Janis is quickly arrested. Her husband, Nicko, one of two new signings for First Division Glasgow club Kelvin Football Club, was murdered in the couple's home with their bread knife. Lorimer is put on the case, which seems open and shut – except Lorimer's brief encounter with Janis has led him to doubt she could have done it. 
Some time into the investigation of this case, the referee of Kelvin FC's latest match, a cup defeat to Queen of the South, is shot dead in the driveway to his house. The referee had made a number of controversial decisions during the match that led directly to Kelvin's defeat, and the list of suspects include not only the whole of the Kelvin FC playing and backroom staff but also the innumerable Kelvin Keelies (as the team's fans call themselves). 
Any doubt whether the two murders are linked is dispelled with the shooting dead of the second of Kelvin's summer signings, Jason White. There is definitely a serial killer on the loose. As the investigation moves on, the Kelvin Chairman, Patrick (Pat) Kennedy seems to be next on the killer's hit list. The climax of the novel then becomes a race against time – can Lorimer and his team apprehend the killer before he carries out his evil plan?
Alex Gray employs a number of interesting techniques in the telling of her story. Newspaper cuttings, emails, chat room exchanges, the banter of football commentaries. Sometimes these devises come off. Sometimes, though, they feel contrived and repetitive, annoyingly summarising or explaining what the reader has already surmised. 
On the plus side, the whodunit element of the novel works well. There is a full cast of suspects and the novel is littered with clues, motives and red herrings. I didn't know until the very end who the killer was, so full marks to Gray.
Further reading suggestion: Shadows of Sound - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006WB7HWA/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

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