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by Ken Bruen
St Martin's Minotaur, June 2004
272 pages
ISBN: 0312327269

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

A serial killer is loose in South East London, seeking to make a name for himself by killing policemen. The name he makes is Blitz, as in Blitzkrieg, but despite his melodramatic pretensions, he is really a lousy serial killer, if a deadly one. He can't sustain an MO; he does not confine himself to killing cops; he leaves a trail a mile wide behind him; and, to utterly confound the serial killer type beloved of crime novelists, he is quite stupid.

The cops who are after him are not stupid, but they are all burnt-out cases one way or another. Chief Inspector Roberts has just lost his wife in an horrendous traffic accident and is not sure either how he feels or what he is supposed to say. He falls into a bottle of red wine and surfaces only just in time. Brant has seen far too much while on the force and simply no longer can behave himself in any remotely acceptable way. He can look out for those few he considers worth looking out for, he can catch bad guys, and he can extort free drinks from terrified bartenders.

Falls, the young black WPC has recently lost her good friend to suicide and finds solace in Jack Daniels and later coke. Finally DS Porter Nash, who has had his own burn-outs in the past, still has to put up with the unrelenting homophobia of the force.

Ken Bruen heads his brief chapters with quotations, many of them taken from the likes of Dennis Lehane and George Pelecanos, but he has nothing whatever to learn from American hard-boiled fiction and perhaps more than a little to teach. There is not an ounce of sentimentality here, and needless to say, no happy endings. Bruen's tight, taut prose is unmistakable and, if you're feeling either strong or bitter, not to be missed. Recommended without reservation.

Reviewed by Yvonne Klein, June 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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