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by Quintin Jardine
Headline Book Publishing, August 2001
406 pages
5.99 GBP
ISBN: 0747256683

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Deputy Chief Constable Bob Skinner has enjoyed a long standing indoor 5-a-side football match every Thursday night and has become friends with many of the players, who have changed over the years. Detective Chief Superintendant Andy Martin, Skinner廣 second in command and Alex Skinner廣 ex-fiance, is home, staring at his wall of art, musing on his love life. The nubile, 21 year old next door, starts trying to seduce him, and he is thinking about letting her, when his phone rings, and Detective Chief Inspector Maggie Rose tells him of an horrific torture-murder in North Berwick, the town in which Skinner and his friends have just finished playing their game of football.

Martin has Sergeant Karen Neville pick him up in a squad car and rushes down to the cottage in which Alec Smith廣 disembowelled body is found hanging from a hook set into a beam in the ceiling. Alec Smith, it turns out, was once head of Special Branch, a job that Maggie廣 husband, Mario McGuire now holds.

Saturday night, Andy goes to a birthday party barbecue next door. He is looking down over the railing when he sees a strange package floating by. He goes into the water and finds a body rolled into a piece of carpet that had gotten hung up on a tree branch. The corpse is unrecognizable. It廣 face has been battered, bones and teeth broken, some of the fingers and toes cut off. Two bizarre murders in 3 days, but Skinner and his team can廠 seem to find a connection between them, so they investigate the murders as completely discrete occurrences.

This is the tenth in the series about Skinner and his detectives and their families, a type of book that Ed McBain does so well. Jardine doesn廠 delineate character well enough to carry it off, nor does he make the venue a part of the series, as does Rankin. The ending also comes out of left field. I think this is a series that has run its course.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, November 1901

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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