Avon | 2017 (27 July) | 464p | Review copy | Buy the book
A charity worker is sliced to death in broad daylight at a music festival. A palliative care nurse is crushed to death in her home. Further deaths follow. The murders are very different, suggesting more than one killer is at work, but the links between them indicate that the city of Edinburgh is entering dark days indeed. Days in which those who do good for society are particularly at risk.
DI Luc Callanach is assigned one set of murders while DI Ava Turner investigates the other. To complicated matters, Joe Edgar, an old boyfriend of Ava’s, has turned up in Edinburgh from London to investigate a major cybercrime case. Luc is having to deal with the ramifications of something in his past and Edgar is not helping matters as the space around Ava turns into a battleground. Extreme lengths will need to be taken to bring down the killers and help comes from the unlikeliest of sources. Toes will be trodden on, boundaries will be overstepped. The repercussions may be vast.
Perfect Prey lets you know very early on that we’re in dark and gruesome territory. The murders are vile indeed. No wonder Callanach and Turner are obsessed with solving them and we follow them every meticulous and grim step of the way. The novel has an interesting twist in its structure. The first half is a conventional police procedural but at the 48% mark (I was reading a kindle version!), it shifts and the narrative opens up to include the darker world that Callanach, Turner and their allies are trying to infiltrate. This came at the perfect moment, in my opinion, and lifted the novel from something that had begun to drag into an exhilarating and page-turning second half and finale.
I found Perfect Prey to be a difficult read at times. The gory murders and the casual cruelty of some of the novel’s characters were grim to read. There was one character in particular who drove me to the limits of my endurance, so much so that his thread of the story did mar the novel for me a bit. Callanach’s new neighbour also drove me mad, I’ll be honest. The private lives of Callanach and, especially, Turner influenced the book to a very large degree, at times slowing down the movement of the novel. Fortunately, the shift in narrative that I mentioned before really did the book a big favour and gave its momentum a much-needed kick. The grim mood, though, does persevere until the very last page. I should mention that I wasn’t able to finish the previous novel, Perfect Remains, and so Perfect Prey represents a big step forwards – I found it a much better novel.
Perfect Prey is ingeniously plotted, supported by two very strong characters in Callanach and Turner. Despite my issues with the novel, I was riveted by the second half and clung on to its every word. I just hope that the future might brighten up a little for our courageous and determined policing duo – but I rather suspect it won’t.