Thursday, 5 November 2015

A Slow Death by James Craig

It’s Day Four of #BBCrimeWeek and I’ve chosen to review the first Kriminalinspektor Max Drescher book. This is the first title from new crime publishers Fahrenheit Press, who if you aren’t following their brilliant Twitter feed then you’re missing a treat. 

From the author of the Inspector John Carlyle novels comes this new series set in 90s Germany where we are introduced to veteran detective Max Drescher who lives and works very much by his own rules. Max and his partner Michael are put on the case of a cruel family slaying with no clear motive. 

With his own problems to deal with and his days as a police detective numbered, Max wants the case resolved as quick and cleanly as possible. But as the body count rises, Max is faced with a dangerous mix of mafia operations, gang activity and office politics meaning his last assignment may not be wrapped up in quite the way he planned. 

I loved the premise of the story from the start. The Berlin wall has recently come down and the city is still adjusting. It’s a turbulent time which certainly doesn’t make things easy for Max and his colleagues. Between the crime scenes, criminal dens and other locations across the city, you really get a sense of the place which immerses you in the story. 

Max is a brilliant lead character. He’s going through something of a rough patch and doesn’t care what people think of him, but he’s still human and with a great sense of humour so very much likeable, even when he’s not playing fair. He has a great partnership with fellow detective Michael, who balances him out. As well as a big cast of good, bad and ugly characters, there are even a few hard-hitting females sprinkled in the story which I liked. 

There’s a lot for Max and Michael to deal with and they are under time constraints too factoring in Max's looming dismissal and mounting pressure from the higher-ups in the police department for a clean resolution. The brutal nature of the crimes adds to the urgency of the case and the drama of the story. I really enjoyed the level of violence and gore that made the storyline even more punchy. 

The story explores some strong themes aside from the criminal aspect which was interesting to read and even with his future somewhat unclear, I can tell there is so much more for dear Max Drescher to give to hungry crime fiction readers. An excellent start to a promising series, A Slow Death is pacy and exciting with a lead character you can’t help but like and a story you won’t want to end.   

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