Shifting Skin by Chris Simms

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Shifting Skin by Chris Simms

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Someone is murdering women, removing their skin and dumping them in the Belle Vue area of Manchester and it's up to D I Jon Spicer to stop the killing. A highly recommended book from one of our most promising new crime writers.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: September 2007
Publisher: Orion
ISBN: 978-0752881683

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The killer was known as 'The Butcher of Belle Vue' as women were being murdered and their bodies dumped in the Belle Vue area of Manchester. The violence was escalating - the third body had been partially skinned before she was dumped - and her face was missing.

D I Jon Spicer has a new partner, Rick Saville. Jon's a man's man, fond of manly pursuits and Rick's, well, Rick's gay and he doesn't seem inclined to hide the fact. That's not the only problem for Jon. He's also wondering if Rick is feeding information back to Jon's superior. But they've got to find a way of working together if they're to stop the butcher. Their first lead isn't as good as they might have hoped.

Fiona had driven away from her violent husband and fetched up in a motel frequented by local prostitutes. The night manageress patched her up, gave her several brandies to calm her down and then provided a bed for the night. Her drunken sleep was interrupted by sounds from the next room. At first she thought that she was hearing a sexual encounter but it's soon obvious that an extreme level of violence is involved. The following morning she checked the room and could find no clues to what had happened other than a card from an escort agency with the name 'Alexia' scrawled on the back. When the police don't think that this is a promising lead she decides to follow her own instincts and trace Alexia to ensure that she's alright. The trouble is that the tracing has to be done on some very mean streets - and with a husband who is determined to find and punish her.

This is the second Jon Spicer book which I've read and I thought that I might be making a mistake by reading them back to front, so to speak, but that wasn't the case. Each book in the series can be read as a stand-alone as there are no spoilers. You might be aware of what sex the baby is going to be, but that's the extent of it.

I like Jon Spicer. He's fallible, doing his best both by the job and his pregnant girlfriend. Sometimes they both get short-changed, but these books are plot- rather than character-driven, and what a plot this is. Given that women are being skinned it could have descended into a horror story of gruesome detail, but Simms deals with the details sensitively whilst never allowing them to lose their impact. The details are there to further the plot not to titillate.

I didn't guess the identity of the killer. I had someone entirely different chalked in but I was wide of the mark and all the clues were there. Whilst possibly not up to the standard of Rankin at the peak of his prowess with Inspector Rebus I don't doubt that he has the ability to reach that standard. This book is certainly better than many of the earlier Rebus novels. He's well worth reading now and he's definitely one to watch for the future.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending this book to the Bookbag.

If you enjoy crime thrillers then Bookbag thinks that you might enjoy Dark Angels by Grace Monroe.

Buy Shifting Skin by Chris Simms at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Shifting Skin by Chris Simms at

Buy Shifting Skin by Chris Simms at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Shifting Skin by Chris Simms at


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