55 by James Delargy
|55 by James Delargy
|Reviewer: Ruth Wilson
|Summary: Two men enter a police station, two men with identical stories of drugging, kidnap, escape through mass graves and finally freedom, two men who claim they were to be victim 55, two men who both identify the other as responsible. Who is the murderer and who is the victim? A dark and intriguing portrayal of humanity from a great writer, with twists and turns until the very last second.
|Date: April 2019
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Two men enter a police station, both tell the same story; they were kidnapped and narrowly escaped the clutches of a man who intended to kill them. As they escaped they ran through a graveyard and they were not the first victim. The stories match, the evidence is compelling and each man blames the other. Now the question is, who is guilty?
Gabriel is nervous, reticent and jittery. Reluctant to speak and eager to leave, but that is understandable, he claims to have been drugged, kidnapped and narrowly escaped with his life. Heath is loud and blustery, angry and abrasive, but that is also understandable, he claims to have been drugged and kidnapped and narrowly escaped with his life so how to sort the truth from the lies? Sergeant Chandler Jenkins is in charge of the small police force of five in Wilbrook, Western Australia, a desolate, arid farming community in the middle of the Pilbara plateau, known, within the novel, for people going walkabout and notorious for people getting lost due to humanity underestimating just how brutal nature can be.
As the scale of the investigation becomes clear, Chandler is forced to call in backup from the nearest city, and an old colleague, Inspector Mitchell Andrews. Mitch grew up in Wilbrook and long since escaped to the big city for promotion and prestige and has returned for personal glory and to score a victory against his old partner. At this point the book became really interesting, I thought this book would be similar in style to a Dan Brown novel, fast paced, constant action and searching for clues, one clue turns up another and a few red herrings thrown in for drama but this book is, in fact, the total opposite of that. This is a carefully considered novel about a man, Chandler, who genuinely wants to do the right thing to protect his town, his family and find the guilty party. Yet he is prevented from doing so at every turn by Mitch, who not only wants to solve the case for his own glory but he actively wants to step on Chandler as much as possible in the process.
The reader is shown flashbacks into the case that drove Chandler and Mitch apart all those years ago. It is clear that it has some importance to the larger picture of the plot as a whole but it is teased so slowly and carefully that the reader only finds out enough to support the continuing plot of the novel. 55 is a beautifully written book. Mitch is a truly awful human being, his motivation is so corrupted and he is so petty, and as a reader you can’t help but root for Chandler. The story becomes less and less about the specifics of the case itself but more about Chandler and Mitch and their power dynamics as characters as they try to solve who did it, Chandler with his pure intentions, Mitch out for glory and determined to embarrass Chandler.
As a murder mystery and thriller there is not a lot I can say about the conclusion of the book without spoiling it utterly. Some clues are enough to let the reader guess what is happening, I certainly did, but other twists shocked me and the ending left me amazed; I never saw the ending coming! So I would say absolutely read this book. It is character driven, and believable, and hard to put down. This is a dark and intriguing portrayal of humanity from a great writer. Alternatively you could also try Into the River by Mark Brandi.
You can read more book reviews or buy 55 by James Delargy at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy 55 by James Delargy at Amazon.com.
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