DEAD WRONG a gripping detective thriller full of suspense - HELEN H. DURRANT

I'll preface the review by noting the huge role played by personal preference when selecting a book. When I read the promotional blurb, this sounded right up my alley as I'm a big fan of police procedurals. The publisher even provided a subtitle to let me know it's "a gripping detective thriller full of suspense". Maybe that should have set off alarm bells.

Unfortunately, this was not for me. It makes a review difficult so I've split it into 2 parts, the plot & the characters, and will try to state my case without spoilers.


First, the main plot line. This is the book's strong suit. Body parts are popping up on the Hobfield Estate, a rundown housing development in the village of Leesdon. Local coppers suspect a turf war between rival gangs. But the reader knows better as we spend time with a twisted killer in alternate chapters.

The estate is well described & you get a real sense of the hopelessness & resulting violence that flourishes in an environment of poverty & lost dreams.

It becomes a game of cat & mouse as police scramble for clues before the madman snatches another victim. I figured out who the killer was early on but the motivation behind his spree wasn't clear 'til the end.


Second, the characters. This was the book's achilles tendon. Unfortunately, they're 2 dimensional at best & prone to actions that had me scratching my head, thinking "huh?"

DI Tom Callandine is the leader of his unit & we're told repeatedly he's smart & well regarded by his team. This was a mystery to me as many of his choices seemed more attributable to a rookie as opposed to a seasoned. experienced cop. We spend a lot (a LOT) of time in his head as he frets over every decision. You get a sense the author wants to portray him as an intelligent, decent guy but there's a real disconnect between this & his actions (particularly in regard to his personal life). I would have preferred a lot less "tell" & more "show". And just as an aside, I found his tendency to assess every female character in terms of her dress size a tad annoying. 

Other characters don't fare much better as stereotypes prevail. You have Ruth, the 30-ish single cop (who would be so pretty if she'd just lose weight, according to Tom). And the DCI they report to comes across as a self-important & pompous buffoon without a clue (how real life DCI's must despair...). As a whole, the gangsters were better developed & more believable characters than those in blue.


As for the investigation, I think I've been spoiled by reading authors such as Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Jo Nesbo & Michael Connelly. One reason they're popular is they've done their homework. But unfortunately, the result is errors in police procedure jump off the page. And my own background leads me to notice mistakes in medical practice. They're small details to be sure but easy to get right with a little research to avoid the plot taking a hit to its credibility. 


So I guess it comes down to the unpredictable element of personal preference. All an author can do is write the story they want to tell & hope it finds an audience. It's kind of like going on a blind date. Sometimes you know pretty quick you'll only be ordering an appetizer as opposed to a 3 course meal. 

But judging by other reviews, this book is finding compatible partners who now have a new series to look forward to & will stay for desert while I hail a cab.