Post Mortem by Kate London

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Post Mortem by Kate London

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Caroline Waiting
Reviewed by Caroline Waiting
Summary: Plans are already in place to turn this intelligent, carefully constructed police thriller into a TV drama. It is a well written first novel by talented author Kate London who served as an officer in the Metropolitan police Force prior to writing the book. You will quickly be drawn into the fast paced action revolving the unexplained deaths of a police officer and young girl. I do hope this is the first in an eventual series of crime novels by this author.
Buy? YES Borrow? YES
Pages: 368 Date: August 2015
Publisher: Atlantic Books
ISBN: 978-1782396130

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I enjoyed this police crime novel by a talented new writer, Kate London. It is a well written and intelligently thought out book. The characters are clearly drawn and you are able to see the drama unfold from different perspectives. The action constantly shifts from the present, back to the events that lead to the crime taking place and then forward to reveal a little more of the plot with each shift. This helps you engage immediately with the story and with the characters.

The story starts on the rooftop of an urban tower block in London after a policeman and a young girl are revealed to have fallen to their deaths onto the tarmac far below. The events that lead to these grisly fatalities and the consequences of their deaths, gradually unfold to provide a tense police drama with undercurrents of racism, class conspiracy and official intrigue. It is an intelligent and demanding read that keeps you are your toes as you try to work out what is going on and who is ultimately fighting for justice.

The author spent time as a police officer in the Metropolitan Police Force, and specifically with Homicide Command before leaving to write this book. This means that official procedures and dialogue between the police officers ring true and makes the actions convincing. The trivial conversations and joshing between colleagues is authentic. These dialogues are increasingly important as the main dilemma of the book is revealed and I found myself going back and re-reading these sections to clarify what was originally said.

The location of the book is a rundown London suburb (which sounds to me like Shepherds Bush). There are excellent depictions of conflict between middle class house owners keen to gentrify the area and housing association tenants exhibiting some anti-social behaviour. The grim descriptions of the seedy metropolis are realistic which gives an edgy backdrop to the plot. There are graphic images of tower blocks with stinking lifts and poorly lit stairwells. The author is poetic in her portrayal of the harsh street life, the tall buildings, like needles on a sun dial, had cast sharp cold shadows on the waking streets. The urban scene is concrete and tarmac, lined with halal takeaway shops, cash converters, pound stores and Tesco Metros. The weather too, seems to reflect the depressing lives of the people who live in the squalid houses. They are blasted by the wind while bitter winds hurtle across the roof.

It is at first hard to warm to any of the main protagonists. Kate London skilfully brings them to life and adds little details to give them a depth that was originally lacking. You see the moral dilemmas that face PC Lizzie Griffiths, a young inexperienced but none the less idealistic copper. She struggles to do the right thing and to stop events spiralling out of control. As Lizzie becomes increasingly desperate the reader lives with her the need to make the right decisions and support people for the right reasons.

You get a real sense of the multi-cultural melting pot that forms this rundown neighbourhood. There is a clash between the established communities and the newcomers who have a forlorn hope in a promised British justice system. Figures are at first little more than caricatures but as they come to life you begin to understand what makes them tick. Feisty, fierce Farah, little more than a child is revealed as being a talented mathematician, ferociously protective of her family with an inherited hatred of the police. In contrast we meet the little boy, Ben in his bear suit, taught by his mother to always trust authority and turn to the cavalry when faced with injustice.

Kate London has taken her wealth of police experience and constructed a desperate and impelling drama. It leaves you examining your support for each character, attempting to piece together significant events and ultimately questioning the role of the police within our urban communities. Kate is clearly a talented newcomer to the world of crime fiction. I understand the book has already been optioned as a possible TV series which reflects the strength of her writing. I'm already looking forward to her next book.

If you enjoyed this book you will probably enjoy Under A Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes or Raven Black by Ann Cleeves. You might also enjoy The Vanishing Season by Johanna Schaffhausen.

Kate London's Metropolitan Police Series in Chronological Order

Booklists.jpg Post Mortem by Kate London is in the Top Ten Crime Novels of 2015.

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