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Thursday, 22 August 2013

‘Deadly Deceit’ by Mari Hannah

Published by Pan, 11 April 2013.

Discovering a new series character to seek out is one of the pleasures the readerholic looks forward to, and I think I’ve found one in Mari Hannah’s DCI Kate Daniels.
Deadly Deceit is the third in the series, and it’s plain from the outset that the protagonist has history and ongoing issues, as do several of the supporting characters.

One of Hannah’s strengths is a strong visual sense, possibly fostered by earlier forays into TV scriptwriting. A devastating motorway pile-up, a busy murder investigation room, an elegant apartment, a downmarket terrace and an enormous airbus are just a few of the locations which form a colourful background to the fast-paced narrative – though some of the description may be a tad on the graphic side for some tastes.

The plot is a classic: in the early part of the book a psychopathic serial killer sees off lover, old lady and child in two apparently unconnected incidents, then the body count rises as the villain – damaged in childhood, of course – stays one step ahead of the police right up to the final dramatic take-down. 

What brought the narrative to life for me, and raised it a notch above the average police procedural, was Hannah’s knack for giving the reader enough of the backstory from the previous series titles to bring the characters to life, and whet the appetite for them without giving away too much of the plots. Using a deft hand with character, she sketches in bereavement, a rocky marriage, relationships and failings, all of which happened before the book begins but still impact on who and where the characters are now. There are cross-currents and frictions in the investigation team, and the workload and pressures they are under come over loud and clear. Real-life policemen often claim that crime fiction bears little resemblance to what actually goes on; it would be interesting to get their take on this book.

Kate Daniels herself is a tough cookie with a soft centre, whose ambition is potentially thwarted by her sexual preferences; it seems it still isn’t wholly acceptable to be lesbian in the police service. Not that it’s a major plot point, but does play a major role in who Daniels is, which is a key factor in building a series. And this is a series well worth watching.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Mari Hannah was born in London and moved north as a child. Sponsored by the Home Office, she graduated from Teesside University before becoming a Probation Officer, a career cut short when she was injured while on duty. Thereafter, she spent several years working as a film/television scriptwriter. During that time she created and developed a number of projects, most notably a feature length film and the pilot episode of a crime series for television based on the characters in her book, the latter as part of a BBC drama development scheme. She lives in Northumberland with her partner, an ex-murder detective. In 2010, she won the Northern Writers' Award. Mari is the author of the Kate Daniels series.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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