Sunday 25 March 2018

Only the Dead (DCI Bennett book 1) - Malcolm Hollingdrake

Meet DCI Cyril Bennett, a man with a passion for manners and efficiency, as well as an eye for the ladies. His partner, DS David Owen, is naïve and untidy but keen. Together they make a formidable pair.

When the discovery of two infants’ bodies is made at a Teacher Training College, Bennett and Owen are given the case. Soon a number of suspects are identified.
At the same time, a killer is on the loose staging attacks using sulphur mustard.
Is there a link between the infants’ bodies and the sulphur mustard attacks? 
Do the answers lie in the past or the present?
Bennett and Owen must work together to bring to justice a killer with revenge on his mind.

What did I think?

What an introduction to a new crime series!  I loved every single word that Malcolm Hollingdrake has carefully chosen in this first instalment of the DCI Bennett series.  The writing is so descriptive that a picture is painted before your eyes as if you're watching it on screen, which DCI Bennett can't do as he doesn't have a television, or an 'Idiot's lantern' as he calls them.  

It didn't take long for me to feel an affinity with DCI Cyril Bennett.  He's a typical Northerner, who loves a pint of Black Sheep (my favourite beer), is thought of so highly by his colleagues that he has a humorous nickname and is getting on with his job despite suffering from an outbreak of Bell's Palsy, causing temporary paralysis to his face.  Partnered with young and naïve DS David Owen, the pair investigate when two infant bodies are found.  At the same time, a killer is targeting care workers by infecting them with sulphur mustard, harvested from bullets left behind during the First World War.  Bennett has his hands full with both cases but I had no doubt that his good old-fashioned police work would reap rewards.

I read Only the Dead just before the awful events in Salisbury where nerve gas was used on a former Russian spy and his daughter.  The real life events had little care for who would get infected by the toxin, whereas the perpetrator in the book was a killer with a conscience as he warned the targets to contain themselves to avoid innocent people being infected.  Without delving too deeply, it also brought to light some of the conditions that our elderly population have to suffer in care homes.  I know we only hear of bad stories, but I do hope that there are more good care homes out there than bad ones.

Although it's only a 254 page book, Only the Dead epitomises the saying 'quality over quantity' and, with not a word out of place, shows the rest of the field how a book should be written.  I'm really looking forward to continuing the series with Hell's Gate.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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