Falling by John Connor

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Falling by John Connor

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: In this the third outing for John Connor, Detective Constable Karen Sharpe is back and has been drafted onto Bulldog Squad to deal with the six year old child of a brutally murdered young pregnant woman. Procedurally brilliant, although slow at times, this tale speeds to a pleasing climactic crescendo.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 420 Date: November 2007
Publisher: Orion
ISBN: 978-0752876375

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DC Karen Sharpe has been through a great deal in her life. As the victim of a terrifying crime, she is teetering very close to the edge of a void that will swallow her whole if she lets it. So, desperately trying to shield herself from the ghosts of her own imagination, Karen must immerse herself once more in the same world of scum and villainy that once almost ended her life. She knows that in doing so, she threatens her sanity and the fragile wall that she has built around herself and her daughter Mairead, but she can see no other way to go on.

A young pregnant woman is stabbed 34 times and her husband shot and left for dead. The couple's six year old child is found at the scene sleeping serenely next to her dead mother, oblivious to the fact. DC Sharpe is drafted onto the investigation team, Bulldog Squad, to see what she can find out from the only surviving witness, the couple's daughter, Jana.

DC Sharpe could not have known how much the phone call from SIO (Senior Investigating Officer) Ronnie Shepherd was going to change her life.

The most striking fact about this novel is that John Connor writes with a wealth of procedural detail that, in my view, cannot be researched. And so I get the impression that Mr Connor used to be a policeman. I'm also speaking from the standpoint of close family members being in the police force and the language used is instantly recognisable, so for me the story has such a ring of authenticity about it that it was irresistible to read.

At 420 odd pages it's not a long book but in places, it really felt like twice that. Connor is sometimes tempted to stray from the beaten track and go off at a tangent into sub-plots that do not seem to have either a satisfactory conclusion or latterly any inclusion or cross-referral in the original tale. He did this several times during the early part of the story to the point where I had forgotten what the original plot was. By and large it did not spoil the book, but it did halt the flow somewhat.

He does, however, make up for any plotline transgressions with a superb cast of characters, a gritty and apalling window into the race riots that took their toll on Bradford and the surrounding area in the not too distant past, and also with a crashing, blockbuster of an ending that sees justice meted out to those who deserve it the most.

In summary I enjoyed the book, in spite of there being a couple of final niggly little things: I'm not sure what "Falling" has to do with the actual story in this novel, neither am I entirely clear on the relevance of the tagline "they sent her undercover; will she ever come back" as DC Sharpe does not go undercover as such in the story. Also, I'd have liked to have seen an epilogue, because I grew quite fond of Pete, but that's neither here nor there really. I guess (and hope) he will appear with DC Sharpe in another outing. I will certainly keep an eye out.

I would recommend you buy this novel if you enjoy gnarly British police dramas, such titles as Mark Billingham's Sleepyhead or better still, any of Ruth Rendell's Wexford novels.

Finally, Bookbag would very much like to thank Orion Books for sending us a copy to review.

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Buy Falling by John Connor at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Falling by John Connor at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Falling by John Connor at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Falling by John Connor at Amazon.com.


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