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Tuesday 17 November 2015

‘What Remains’ by Tim Weaver

Published by Michael Joseph,
16 July 2015.
ISBN: 978-0-718-18167-3 (HB)

Coming to a well-established series three or four books in can be a frustrating experience; characters and background are often set up and developed in the first couple of books, and few authors can resist the temptation to drop hints and the odd spoiler. What Remains is the sixth in Tim Weaver’s series featuring missing persons investigator David Raker – and I was relieved to find plenty of information and backstory to give me a handle on this determined and damaged loner.

In fact, the whole book depends to some extent on an earlier volume in the series. It harks back to a conversation between Raker and a senior detective in the second book, regarding a case which the detective failed to solve. That case, and the detective’s life-changing obsession with it, lie at the heart of this one.

It’s a meaty, labyrinthine narrative which plumbs dark depths and explores areas of the human psyche which make the soul shiver. Healy, the detective, has lost his family, career and home in the course of his pursuit of justice for a single mother and her twin eight-year-olds who were brutally murdered some years before the book begins. There are clear indications that the pursuit has continued through several books in the series, and I don’t think it’s giving too much away to say that this time he gets what he has been seeking, after a fashion; eventual justice, is after all, the whole point of crime fiction.

Raker is a complex character, with a dead wife and failed relationships behind him, but he pales into insignificance beside Healy, whose fall from grace has taken him as low as a man can go. There are other intriguing characters too: Calvin East, curator of an odd museum; Annabel, Raker’s feisty daughter; Melanie Craw, a detective with a heart and a lot of common sense.

The sense of place is powerful. An unseasonally warm autumn in London comes across strongly. The museum has a creepy fascination. Derelict buildings have a large part to play.

This isn’t a book to be read quickly. The story is multi-stranded and keeps veering off in unexpected directions; it needs the reader’s full attention lest the thread is lost. But it’s worth the effort, if you have a few days to spare.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Tim Weaver is the bestselling author of Chasing the Dead, The Dead Tracks, Vanished, the Richard and Judy Book Club selection Never Coming Back, and most recently Fall From Grace. All his thrillers feature missing persons investigator David Raker. Weaver has been nominated for a National Book Award and shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Association Dagger in the Library, which considers an author's entire body of work. A former journalist and magazine editor, he lives near Bath with his wife and daughter.

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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