Sunday, April 3, 2016

Death in Profile: Review

A serial killer has been stalking London. Inspector Tom Allen and his team have been investigating for over 15 months without a single break in the case. The killer has been very clever and left very few clues to his/her identity. When Kathy Barker becomes the fifth victim to be chloroformed, killed with a hammer, and raped by her murderer, Allen is pulled from the case and replaced by Detective Superintendent Collison. Collison has the team start from the beginning and the new approach results in a consultation with a psychological profiler. Things begin to fall in place quickly--a suspect is found and the team builds their case. But will new techniques ultimately trump tried and true police procedure? Will a legal education and fast-track detective techniques serve better than a regular copper's experience and his "copper's nose" for the truth?

Guy Fraser-Sampson has created a company of very interesting characters. Characters who are at once likeable and compelling with imperfections that we can all understand and relate to. He has also, as noted on the novel's back cover, put together a "love letter to the detective novel." A notation that should come as no surprise to those of us who love the Golden Age Detective novel and who are fellow members of a GAD group online, because I would add that it is a love letter to the classic detective novel. The references to various writers from the Golden Age and their creations as well as the most obvious tribute to Dorothy L. Sayers and Lord Peter Wimsey are quite delightful. Fraser-Sampson pulled me into the story from the outset and I enjoyed the investigation quite a lot. I also enjoyed the various tensions developed in the story--from the tensions between older and newer methods of police work to the tensions between various members of the team to the tensions involved with bringing in the profiler.

My only misgivings are over some obvious matters of routine that never seem to occur to the investigating officers--going thoroughly into the background of a few of their vital witnesses and checking out the husband of one the victims, if only to be sure that this was, indeed, one of the serial killings and not a copy-cat killing to take advantage of the hunt for the "condom killer," to mention a few. There are a number of instances of "forehead-slapping" where the senior officers say "Why didn't I/we think of that?!" And, I have to admit to thinking, "Well, yes, why didn't you?" Overall, a very solid, entertaining beginning to a new series and I look forward with great anticipation to future installments. ★★★★

Thanks to Guy Fraser-Sampson for arranging the delivery of this review copy. My review policy is posted on my blog, but just to reiterate....The book was offered to me for impartial review  and I have received no payment of any kind. All comments in this review are entirely my own honest opinion.


Unknown said...

That's a fun premise -- the tensions between the old and new investigative techniques. Thanks for introducing me to this book.

fredamans said...

Sounds like a fast-paced read. Though I wonder just how many forehead slapping moments you had? Too many to get into the story?

Bev Hankins said...

Freda: Not too many to get into the story (and the forehead slapping was the detectives, not me). But it did detract enough to lower the star rating.