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by Chris Simms
Orion, April 2009
304 pages
10.99 GBP
ISBN: 1409111067

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Chris Simms' THE EDGE is part of a thoroughly morose series. This time out, the fifth book ventures into even more morose territory that beloved of Stephen Booth in Britain's Peak District.

DI Jon Spicer's estranged brother Dave has been found dead in gruesome circumstances. The local police aren't exactly falling over themselves to find out who killed him, and Spicer's hob-nailed boots approach doesn't endear him to them.

Come to think of it, Spicer doesn't really endear himself to anyone. He manages to wind up his parents, his wife Alice and absent boss Buchanon. The only person who sticks with him is partner Rick and crime scene manager Nikki, who for some unaccountable reason is besotted with our unfriendly neighbourhood Neanderthal.

And this, to be honest, is why this series has never quite cut it for me. Flawed and unlikeable characters are all very well, but the reader needs to see some redeeming features to hang in there. Spicer is morose, aggressive and selfish, although I suppose you have to admire him for risking losing everything in his search for Dave's killer.

On the positive side, Simms is consistently good on setting, with the contrast between Manchester and rural Derbyshire, where the same crimes occur, just in a smaller area. Particularly chilling are the scenes featuring Dave's girlfriend Zoe, who's left stranded on a rough housing estate. And there's an unusual and intriguing angle with egg stealing.

But none of the supporting cast quite stand out enough, with the exception of Rick, the gay cop who has his own child-related issues to deal with. It's hard to sympathise with Spicer's family when they're as one-dimensional as they are.

It's certainly not a bad series, and definitely worth a look if you go for the darker side of the genre. THE EDGE is doom and gloom from start to finish, and the ending suggests Spicer's next outing is not going to be any easier on him or the reader.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, September 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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