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robtwinem

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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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Simply sublime

The Dark Gray Blanket - Robert Burns

In the winter of 76 and 77 in the area of Oakland in the county of Michigan four children aged between the ages of 10 and 12 were abducted, held for days before finally being brutally murdered their bodies being left either naked or partially clothed in the frozen landscape. The babysitter killer, as he came to be known, was never apprehended and The Dark Gray Blanket is a fictional novel about this event.

 

Frank Pellegrini, an experienced detective, works with the Child Victims Investigative Unit of the Detroit Police Department. He is tolerated by his boss Captain McDougal who knows that Frank has the best wishes of the greater community at heart even though at times his methods are somewhat unorthodox. He lives a lonely bachelor life having been greatly affected by events in his childhood disclosed later in the novel. His days are days of routine usually complemented with a visit to his favourite watering hole "O'Malleys"..."Frank's evening up until now had been predictable the medicinal shots of Wild Turkey 101 at O'Malleys, his favourite meal, two hours of mulling over his cases at his desk while dressed only in his underwear, and the final dose of Wild Turkey launching him into a deep, worry-free sleep." When the naked body of a child is found partly buried in snow Frank, together with his new partner Jimmy Wilson, is tasked with the job of bringing the killer to justice. As the body count rises, and the word serial killer is uttered, the good citizens of a frightened community are demanding answers exerting justifiable pressure on an overworked Detroit Police Dept.

 

The writing of The Dark Gray Blanket is sublime narrated in unhurried deeply descriptive prose. We learn a little of the history of the area made famous by the automobile industry in particular Henry Ford and also two renowned musicians; Vincent Damon Furnier and Robert Clark Seger better known as Alice Cooper and Bob Seger. The cold frosty snowbound Michigan winters of 76 and 77 add a frosty and chilly feeling to the developing nightmare...."The dark black night sky was being punctuated with the soft, fluffy, white falling snow, and the huge boughs, stretching in every direction from the gigantic Douglas firs, were gently swaying under their white burden and the gently blowing wind."....

 

Pellegrini's personal mission to solve a difficult case, his dogged unflinching determination and the relationship with his new young partner Jimmy Wilson create a spell bounding work of genius and a story that I found once started was very difficult to leave until completed. Throughout is a lingering uneasiness and a sense of morbid anticipation as we wait for the killer to strike again..."He still could not believe his eyes. In all his years, he had never viewed a scene quite like this-the solemn, cold, naked isolation of the frailest among us, having endured the most unimaginable horrors form something so evil."....

 

I always wonder when reading a detective novel if the author will have the ability to create a unique conclusion something that will be totally unexpected. The final chapters produced a sequence of events that thrilled me in their audacity and inventiveness, naturally I cannot disclose them to you (dear reader of my review!) for to do so would spoil your enjoyment of a novel that I rate as totally unique, and possibly the best book I have read this year. Many thanks to the good people of netgalley and publisher Howard Schrack for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written. Highly, highly recommended.