Circle of the Dead by Ingrid Black

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Circle of the Dead by Ingrid Black

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: It's early evening on Hallowe'en and the Dublin murder squad find the tortured body of wealthy businessman, Daniel Erskine. Enter ex-FBI special agent Saxon, who teams up with Chief Superintendent Grace Fitzgerald to track down a killer who is closer than they think.
Buy? No Borrow? Yes
Pages: 512 Date: November 2008
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 978-0141025315

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Ex-FBI agent Saxon (and I don't I recall being told a first name at any point) has unwillingly become well acquainted with some of humanity's dregs in her time with the Feds. As special adviser to the Dublin murder squad and teamed up with Chief Superintendent Grace Fitzgerald, she is tasked with tracking down a ruthless killer who is a lot closer than they think.

It's mid December and Dublin is going to see a white Christmas for the first time in almost a hundred years. In fact, it's so cold, the canal has frozen over and it is whilst Saxon risks a turn out on the ice on her skates, that she discovers the body of nineteen year old Beth Griffin. It takes three hours and a specialist team to recover her body.

Fast forward two years, and we are introduced to the somewhat loathesome Lester Coyle who has managed, whilst delivering leaflets, to discover a crime scene. Not just any crime scene, however; as it seems Coyle has stumbled upon the recent murder of wealthy businessman, Daniel Erskine. Just what was he up to, peeping through the letterbox, anyway?

Saxon and Fitzgerald are now charged (no pun intended) with figuring out why Erskine, of all people, was targeted. Was there is some sort of connection between his murder and the now cold case involving Beth Griffin two years earlier ? What, if any, potential significance is the Second Circle - a sort of secret group to which, it transpires, Erskine belonged?

Ingrid Black has been around on the crime thriller circuit for a few years now, her prior Saxon and Fitzgerald offerings dating as far back as 2003, with Circle of the Dead being their fourth outing. The plot, though pleasantly noirish and cleverly built, has very few twists around the usual killer-on-a-spree genre and although Black tosses red herrings around with abandon, the reader is ultimately lead into the expected 'final scenario'. Circle of the Dead is still a relatively satisfying, if formulaic read and whilst I would not suggest you rush out and secure your copy, this is only because I found the characters hard to like. Saxon is not remotely, in my humble opinion, a personable character. She is so androgenous in her traits and language (the story is told as Saxon in the first person) that it takes about forty pages to realise she is a she. I like to be able to identify, even if it's only a smidge, with my heros and heroines and I felt utterly left out in the cold by both Saxon and Fitzgerald.

That aside - and it really is only my opinion; I am hideously picky with my FBI-vested genre novels - it's definitely one to borrow, particularly if you have read the three prior novels in the series.

If this book appeals from the 'FBI angle' as it did with me, then you will almost certainly also enjoy The Blue Zone by Andrew Gross, which is simply brilliant and very likely both of Terri Persons's outings, Blind Spot and Blind Rage, all three of which are more gratifying, need-meeting reads than Circle of the Dead.

Or, if you find the FBI thing gets in the way of a good, gritty, Brit-cop crime thriller, perhaps Mark Billingham would be more up your alley. Bookbag have reviewed In the Dark and Sleepyhead and it may be worth a moment of your time to take a looksee.

Lastly, we would very much like to thank the publisher, Penguin Books for sending this copy to us at Bookbag for review.

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