As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Simon & Schuster, 1 September 2016. ISBN: 978-1-4711-5310-5 (PB)
Lisa Cutts is a working police officer, and it shows in her writing –
though how she has time to do both is the biggest mystery of all. Mercy
Killing is a meticulously observed account of a murder investigation,
recounted from the points of view of the senior investigating officer DI Harry
Powell, his boss, and several members of his team, with incursions into the
minds of the suspects as well.
The crime under investigation
is the brutal murder of a known paedophile, a man universally despised by the
people tasked with seeking his killer. Every detective in the squad would like
to shake the killer’s hand, but each is a professional, and personal feelings
are laid aside as they carry out their assigned tasks.
There’s no room for doubt
that Cutts is telling it how it is: the mountains of paperwork, the division of
labour among the detectives in the squad, the additional workload they all
carry, the shortage of man- and woman-power, the self-doubt, and the emotional
toll some cases, especially this one, can take.
She creates a vivid picture
of the background: shabby, cluttered incident room, unwashed coffee mugs, the
smell of Chinese takeaway lingering overnight. There’s tension too, largely
built by very short chapters left on a question mark, followed by an immediate
shift of viewpoint.
The characters are many and
varied. Harry Powell’s marriage is in trouble; DC Gabrielle is a loner with
issues; DS Sandra is snippy and stand-offish; experienced DC Pierre could tell
a tale or two. The downside of such a large cast is that the reader has no one
in particular to focus on and empathize with; the plot may be the backbone of a
story, but the characters are what holds the reader’s interest. I wanted to
know more about them; Cutts’s approach only allows for superficial sketches of
potentially interesting people.
The suspects are drawn in a
little more depth, and since a paedophile’s murderer can’t help butattract a certain sympathy, are all easier to
connect with, especially since each one has been directly affected by the
paedophile’s activity. Cutts offers five options, and keeps the reader in
suspense almost to the end about which is the culprit, holding back just enough
information to keep the mystery alive.
If you’re interested in how
policing really works, rather than in the pared-down and slightly glamorized
version of it to be found in many police procedurals, Mercy Killing will
certainly work for you.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Lisa Cuttsis the daughter of a former Metropolitan police officer and obtained her
first degree in Law, working in a number of jobs in London and around the South
East area, before becoming a police officer herself in 1996. She later achieved
a second degree in Applied Criminal Investigation. She lives in Kent, where she
balances working full-time for Kent Police with writing crime fiction. An
extract from Never Forget (now
optioned for a major TV drama) won the Writer’s Retreat Competition in 2012. Remember,
Remember is the second book in the DC Nina Foster 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.