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by Carol Smith
Little, Brown, August 2006
320 pages
ISBN: 0316731641

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Andy Brewster is an SAS officer seconded to the Metropolitan Police after being injured whilst in Iraq. He is heading the investigation into a killer on the loose on the London Underground, who is indiscriminately stabbing women to death. Will he be able to track the killer down before it is too late and yet another woman is added to his list of victims?

As with her other novels, Carol Smith concentrates not so much on the policing side of the novel, but on the social aspects. She introduces a range of different women, all of whom could fall victim to the killer's knife, and at the same time, introduces real-life aspects that affected London, such as the July 2005 bombings of the Underground.

On her website, Smith states that she likes to "explore the everyday worlds of ordinary people living mundane lives until something goes drastically wrong", and this is exactly what she does in WITHOUT WARNING. Take, for example, the case of Allie, an American tourist who is stranded in London, a city that she does not know when her husband breaks his hip.

This approach will undoubtedly not be enough to satisfy readers who are looking for a darker, grimmer type of novel. It is true that there are police scenes, and indeed violent scenes, but these are few and far between. Smith spends a lot of time moving from character to character, getting inside their heads, and as ever, she is a keen proponent of the 'six degrees of separation' idea, as all of her characters are interlinked, yet do not know it.

The reader, obviously with the benefit of dramatic irony, knows that if all the characters were to get together, the mystery would be very quickly solved -- though, of course, that would spoil the suspense! Smith's characters are, as ever, the strongest part of the novel and some of them are very appealing.

As ever, Smith's tale is a pleasant read, but it is akin to a meal in McDonald's. It is satisfying during the actual consumption, but as soon as the meal is over, you are left wanting more. As much as Smith's tale is enjoyable, a slightly more substantial tale would be heartily welcome.

Reviewed by Luke Croll, August 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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