The Art of Death by David Fennell

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The Art of Death by David Fennell

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: It the first in what (I hope) is a new series. A new inspector is faced with a serial killer before she's got her feet under the desk which quite a few members of the team feel she shouldn't have. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: February 2021
Publisher: Zaffre
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1838773427

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It was an art installation of the type which does appear in Trafalgar Square: a depiction of three homeless men in glass cabinets surrounded by liquid. Only this time it's not a depiction: these are the bodies of Billy Perrin, Stan Buxton and 34-year-old Noel Tipping. The installation is the work of @nonymous, underground artist and extreme version of Banksy. He's made a macabre promise: more will follow. In fact, we've already met the artist although not by name: he's been in the Lumberyard Cafe with his Moleskine notebook, Maki-e fountain pen, MacBook Air and iPhone. Elaine Kelly is there with her son, Jordan, and she's explaining to her best friend, Jackie Morris about the state of her marriage. Actually, it doesn't take a lot of explaining: Frank's attentions are obvious on her face despite the foundation she's applied. Chau Ho is behind the counter. There's someone online, CassandraH, that the artist has his eye on, too.

DI Grace Archer is the daughter of a murdered policeman, DCI Samuel David Archer and she's just temporarily (she thinks) parted from her boyfriend, Dominic Lewis, to return to her grandad's home. Jake Archer is struggling with dementia and Grace is worried about him. Dom wishes that she'd discussed it with him first. Archer's got other things on her mind: it's her first day in a new job and she's taking over as DI from DI Andy Rees, whom Archer had been responsible for sending to prison. Her DCI is Clare Pierce, who was having an affair with Rees, and the other DI in the office is Rodney Hicks, a close friend of Rees.

She does have DS Harry Quinn, though - and he, at least, seems at least neutral to her. Quinn's obviously got his own problems and they do, occasionally, intrude on his work. Archer needs all the help she can get as the body count climbs frighteningly quickly.

David Fennell has worked in cybersecurity for fourteen years and is an advocate for information privacy. I wasn't very far into the book before I went into my Facebook account and severely restricted who could have a look at what I was posting. I hope you'll feel the same way!

I was going to read this book over four days - it lasted barely two. Short chapters mean that you're constantly tempted to read just one more but the plot is so good that you have to keep reading to find out what's happening next and who's behind it. Fennell manipulates what seems like a cast of thousands with aplomb and whilst some of the minor characters didn't stay in the mind too well, the major players were vivid. I did guess who was behind the art installations early on but I'll confess that it was on the basis of 'who seemed least likely to be a wrong 'un' which isn't terribly scientific and even having a pretty good idea of who to watch didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book at all.

I hope this is the start of a series: I want to hear more from Grace Archer. She's the investigator hunting a serial killer who was the only survivor of a serial killer as a child. You might think this gives her an advantage, but some fears and reactions never go away and Fennell shows her mental state with sensitivity.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.

For more London crime, try Deadly Cry (D I Kim Stone) by Angela Marsons.

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