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I live in Bristol UK literary fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run

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Entertaining use of language in a drab crime procedural

The Reaper - Steven Dunne

Starts of as a tour de force crime story centred around DI Damen Brook newly moved to Derby from the Met. It would appear that Brook is not the only person to have settled in Derby for when a family is murdered the case bears all the hallmarks of The Reaper a killer that Brook previously failed to apprehend in London and is now terrorizing him anew in the beautiful Derbyshire peak district.


The first half of the story is very readable a cat and mouse game with Brook relying for advice from his old colleague, and former boss, retired policeman, now sadly alcoholic, Charlie Rowlands...."His back was no longer straight as a ramrod but curved and compressed. He'd lost weight as well as the last of his hair, and he was painfully thin. His face was bright and robust, however, as the faces of drunks often are. The red tinge around the high cheekbones and nose mimicked a rosy sheen of health. But the eyes had it, as always. That look of sunken pain, which repelled slumber....." There are the usual trade marks for a copper unable to divide his home and work time resulting in marriage breakup with Amy and a fragmented association with his daughter Terri. There is also some wonderful dialogue, exchanges and observations, a richness in the descriptive language that somewhat complements the ongoing and procedural side of the story......."Unattainable pleasures were to be avoided at all cost. The emotional epidermis of this male was pocked with enough wounds.".........."She was what the politer elements in the division referred to as a handsome woman. To the less polite elements, this meant that while her looks wouldn't make you vomit neither were they likely to induce an erection."...."The sewer he'd been trying to flee for nearly twenty years had taken root inside him."......."An old man in a hovel, clinging to the illusion of life and companionship, only a cat to care whether he lived or died. Mac was The Ghost of Christmas Future. Book had dropped in on his own barren existence, twenty years on."........"Death with dignity sat in their corner, waiting listening and appreciating."......


But the use and flow of language, no matter how good and entertaining, cannot conceal for me the cracks that appear in this long protracted and frankly boring crime procedural. I do not agree with reviews that declare The Reaper was "dreadful" and "extremely poor" but in the final analysis it had little to offer that was new in this crowded genre. Too much dialogue in the second part of the book made me feel that a good editing would greatly have added to the reading experience. I do however close this review with a certain amount of jealousy as a burned out DI still retains the ability to attract the attention of the voluptuous WPC Wendy Jones or perhaps it was the action of a dirty old man taking advantage of a junior and much younger police officer in his place of work, for in Brooks own words......"Wendy Jones was still an innocent abroad, a provincial girl with an endearing ignorance of the world as a dung heap."....