The Jackdaw | Luke Delaney | 2015 | HarperCollins | 425p | Review copy | Buy the book
A vigilante has grabbed hold of the nation’s attention. Heavily disguised, he seizes city financiers and bankers from the streets, straps them to a chair and puts their fate in the hands of the public. The ordeal is put on Your View (YouTube by any other name) and the killer waits for the Likes and Dislikes to come in. Too many Likes and the victim’s life is forfeit while an excess of Dislikes might mean the victim escapes with his or her life but not necessarily all in one piece. This is a killer unlike any DI Sean Corrigan has encountered before. He appears driven less by bloodlust than by a cold, calculating desire for justice – accompanied by more than a little hunger for publicity. Just as well then that a journalist is all too happy to feed that hunger, even giving him his name – the Jackdaw.
The Jackdaw is the fourth novel to feature Corrigan. By now, Corrigan and his team are well-established as hunters of more unusual killers, those who are especially difficult to catch, cases where Corrigan’s special intuition is necessary. But the world has become darker. Here is a killer who murders and maims in the public eye, claiming to give that public what they want, while Corrigan works for a force that is touched by corruption, making it insecure and threatening. Corrigan isn’t fully trusted. Anna, a psychologist, returns from an earlier novel to keep an eye on him. Tensions between the two are strained.
But any strain Corrigan feels in his work is as nothing compared to the menace posed by the Jackdaw. This strong sense of menace is conveyed through shifting perspectives – we spend time with Corrigan, the Jackdaw, the victims and the journalist. We feel the fear of the financial community, not knowing who will be next, we glimpse the mind of the killer and we shake our heads in bemusement at the madness of the journalist.
The Jackdaw is a novel about a chase and as such it thrills. The twists and turns are satisfying and the end result was a surprise. I’ve come to expect great things from Luke Delaney and The Jackdaw does not disappoint. Sean Corrigan is the reason for much of the novels’ success. His troubled past has given him an edge that he somehow manages not to step over. He could have been one of the killers he hunts. He never forgets that. And it adds a tension to his investigations that is deeply fascinating. But I have also grown to like his team members very much, especially Donnelly but there are many who come and go throughout the book and all are well drawn. But, having said all that, I could have done without Anna and the frisson that her presence adds to Corrigan’s relationship with his wife.
I loved the premise of The Jackdaw – a great idea that also seems topical. While I don’t think Corrigan engaged with the killer’s mind as much as in previous novels – this is a very unusual killer so it’s perhaps not surprising – the case put me on the edge of my seat and I was thoroughly entertained and kept guessing from start to finish.
I must include a note of warning: I would recommend that you read these books from the beginning and in order as The Jackdaw does include very revealing mentions of previous cases.
Without doubt, this is a series to watch and I look forward to spending much more time with DI Sean Corrigan and his team, courtesy of the fine writing and deliciously dark imagination of Luke Delaney.