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Wednesday 12 September 2018

‘Perfect Silence’ by Helen Fields

Published by Avon
23 August 2018. 
978-0-00827517-4 (PB)

Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction. If that really is the truth, I hope I never encounter anything in real life that's as strange – or as disturbing – as the crime in Helen Fields's new police procedural.

Set in Rankin country, the mean streets of Edinburgh, her Silence series now runs to four titles. It follows the fortunes and careers of a Murder Investigation Team headed by DCI Ava Turner, an outspoken, dedicated career cop who isn't averse to some rule-bending if it means she gets the job done, and frequently sleeps in her office when she sleeps at all, which isn't often when a case is under way.

There are other regular characters: DI Luc Callanach, a man driven out of his French homeland by a need to escape the past; DS Lively, another rule-bender with scant respect for authority or the line of command; DC Salter, back in harness after personal tragedy; and last but by no means least, Superintendent Daisy Overbeck (mention her first name at your peril!), who isn't nicknamed the Evil Overlord for nothing.

If Perfect Silence is any criterion, the series is very much character-based. Regulars, supporting cast and guest stars alike are sharply drawn, with crisp, well-observed dialogue and just enough physical description; the police people, even workaholic DCI Turner, have lives outside work, and their Edinburgh background in a number of its facets comes to life as well.

And so, to the plot: the disturbing crime in the MIT's sights. In fact, there are two, one even more gruesome than the other. Centre stage lies a series of murders whose main feature is the killer's doll fetish – but these are no ordinary dolls. The bad guy removes skin from the victim's body and stitches it into a travesty of a rag doll.

A side issue – or is it? – is a series of vicious attacks on homeless people in which their faces are slashed in another travesty, this time of the Z mark of Zorro.

Both horrific crimes leave a trail to be followed – this is fiction, after all – and Ava and her team negotiate a variety of obstacles on their way to a solution, not least from inside their own hierarchy. Pretty standard police procedural stuff, apart from that plot, which surely ought to carry one of those 'may find upsetting' warnings handed out before some TV dramas. But it's the characters who make the book memorable, bring the whole scenario into sharp relief, and raise it well above run of the mill.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Helen Fields, a former barrister, now writes a Scottish set crime series - D.I.Callanach and D.I. Ava Turner. Her debut novel Perfect Remains and the second in the series Perfect Prey are Amazon best sellers. Perfect Silence is her fourth book. She currently commutes between Hampshire, Scotland and California, and lives with her husband and three children.
Twitter @Helen_Fields

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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