To Catch a Killer by Emma Kavanagh

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To Catch a Killer by Emma Kavanagh

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A cracking good thriller which had me gripped from the first page to the last. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: January 2019
Publisher: Orion
ISBN: 978-1409174981

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If you're a detective on a murder squad one of the first things you learn is detachment. You develop a distance from the victim: it allows you do do your job with the minimum amount of emotion. That's relatively easy when you encounter your victim when they're already dead but DS Alice Parr met the woman they would need to call Jane Doe when she was alive, albeit only just. She was being tended by an off-duty paramedic who was struggling to cope with the fact that the woman's throat had been cut and she'd been stabbed several times. The attack had been called in by a dog walker and Alice had been walking to work when the call came over her Airwave radio.

She did her best to help the paramedic, holding the woman's hands and trying to soothe her. The woman could hardly speak but before the ambulance took her away she struggled to say something to Alice. Did she really say wolf? Over the following weeks and months Alice would doubt that she really heard the word. But who was this woman? She was beautiful, patrician looking and obviously well-to-do. There were children's toys in her pocket: why had no one missed her?

If tracing the identity of the victim was difficult, the attacker seemed more like a ghost. He was there, but not there, taunting the police - and he seems to know a lot about Alice, to be obsessed by her. Why can the police not track him down? The chase takes Alice from the UK to the USA in her desperate attempt to find her killer and to prevent more deaths.

Alice Parr was struggling with her own demons. She'd nearly lost her life in a fire at her flat some months before and whilst she'd survived her face was badly scarred. Concealer did little to hide the marks. There'd been one Alice Parr before the fire and another one afterwards: Alice was still trying to come to terms with the new version.

Five days, I said to myself. Five days. This book should nicely last me five days, reading for a couple of hours a day. In the event it took me just over a day to turn the final page and I'm left hoping that there will be a sequel. It's a cracking story. I did wonder when I realised that Alice was scarred: was this going to be another story which relies over-heavily on the problems of the detective? In the event I needn't have worried: it worked well and wasn't over used. It lent some depth to Parr's character, explained why she was sometimes lacking in confidence and at other times rather brusque. I liked her and by the end of the book rather invested in her character. She's feisty.

I did work out who the attacker was and what was behind the attack but it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the story at all, not least because I was never totally convinced that I was right. It's an ingenious story, written well and if the publisher is reading, might I just mention that sequel again, please?

This is my first Emma Kavanagh book (but it won't be the last) but here at Bookbag we've also been delighted by Hidden and The Missing Hours.

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