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by David Lawrence
Michael Joseph, February 2007
416 pages
10.99 GBP
ISBN: 0718146565

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

DOWN INTO DARKNESS is a must-read, but start at the beginning if you're new to this unusual and intelligent series.

DS Stella Mooney is a cop in London. She and her colleagues seem to spend an inordinate amount of time on the trail of serial killers, and this outing is no different. A young woman is found hanging from a tree with 'dirty girl' scrawled across her back.

Stella and Co are scratching their heads and trying to work out who the woman is and wanted her dead, but seem to be getting nowhere fast. Then another killing occurs this time a man is left on a bench by the river. Someone's cut his throat and left the tag 'filthy coward.'

And just as they're starting to get somewhere, another body is found and the police must link three seemingly disparate victims.

Not much changes in Stella's life. She's still not one for the heart-to-heart, she'll hurtle straight into a risky situation without waiting for back-up, and you can be sure her private life will be in chaos.

The dithering over lovers stopped a book or so back, and she is now with journalist John Delaney. Well, in theory. But she still hasn't sold her flat, and there's a one-night stand out there to haunt her. And Delaney appears to have something on his mind, and Stella is hoping it doesn't involve a ring . . .

David Lawrence is like Stephen Booth in that his characters hardly progress as the series goes on, but you let him get away with it because of the outstanding quality of the world-building and the writing.

Lawrence is also a poet under his real name of David Harsent, and it's that feel for language and setting that makes him an exceptional crime fiction writer. The books are melodic, creative and surprisingly beautiful, given the settings which are London at its bleakest 'the Strip' with its neon lights, seedy shops and hookers, the council estates and the startk interiors of the police station.

I keep meaning to seek out Harsent's poetry. In the meantime, though, his crime fiction will do very well.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, March 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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