Another thriller to review. You’d think, with the amount of crime shows I watch, I would read loads of mystery novels, but it’s not the case. Although I tend to favour sci-fi and fantasy, the truth is I read more of any other genre. I am an eclectic reader and, except if the novel is absolutely terrible, I really enjoy everything and anything. This said, in these reviews I aim to give a comprehensive opinion of the stories (the good, the bad, the ‘meah’) so others can make an informed decision when choosing their next read. So, Ragdoll, here we go.
Detective William Oliver Layton-Fawkes, also known as Wolf, is introduced to us during the verdict of a high profile trial. He had been the lead detective in the case of ‘The Cremation Killer’ and he had successfully arrested a man for the killings of young girls. The whole case has fallen apart though, and it has put into question Wolf’s professionalism and the efficiency of his investigation. When the accused is declared Not Guilty, Detective Fawkes attacks him right in the middle of the courtroom, almost killing the man. The next time we re-encounter him, he is divorced, living in a crappy apartment full of unopened boxes and with a mattress on the floor for a bed. He still, however, has his job. After a stay in a mental hospital and public crucifixion by New Scotland Yard, politicians and the press, he was reinstated to his job. The suspect, Khalid, who he had tried to kill in court, had been eventually found looming over his latest victim, making it clear that he was guilty after all. Public outcry forced the reinstatement of Wolf to the police force.
But what’s coming now for him is no walk in the park. A new serial killer makes an appearance, and the victims are all across the street from his apartment. Well, part of them anyway. The killer has set up an elaborate scene, with a body composed of body parts coming from different individuals, hanging in a distorted position, an arm pointing directly at Wolf’s window across the street. It only takes him seconds to recognise the head in the atrocious body. It’s Khalid’s.
The premise of the novel is quite interesting and it’s hard to put down. The prose is easy to follow although the amount of characters and constantly changing point of view makes it a bit confusing at times, but nothing enough to detract from the story itself.
The storyline is well established for the crime itself and the investigation, but the rest is a bit confused. There are flashbacks that are not introduced in any particular way, just jumping straight into it. We get to experience life through many of the characters and, again, the transitions here could have been smoother. And in the personal side of the main character’s life, it is a bit all over the place. This said, that makes the advancement of the story somewhat unpredictable, which is a good thing.
Now, the thing is, there are a few loose ends that bug me. Nothing much to do with the resolution of the crime itself, that’s made pretty clear at the end, but with the relationships between characters and Wolf’s potential future. You’ll say, well, it’s probably because they will be resolved in future novels. It seems this is the first of a series following Detective William Fawkes. The thing is, there is a twist in this story, which is to be expected, but it’s quite a wow-I-didn’t-see-that-one-coming twist. I am not sure how Cole is going to resolve it if he intends to write further mysteries with Fawkes as the lead. Yet it all points to more books. The Guardian published an article last April explaining how he got a three book deal. I can only trust he has a plan, which I am eager to see.
It was a well written novel, the plot is built well, although something could be improved about the structure, but that’s probably minutiae. But if you like a good crime story and a powerful twist, well, this is the book for you! Great read, with good characters that leave you wanting to know more about them and impossible to put down.
Ragdoll will be available on the 23rd of February.