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Friday 28 June 2019

‘He Will Kill You’ by Charlie Gallagher

Published by Joffe Book,
March 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-78931-086-3 (PB)

Coercive control and physical domestic abuse have been much in the news recently, so it was only a matter of time before this all too common travesty became the focus of crime fiction. But good crime fiction doesn't just make use of high-profile issues; it turns them on their heads and finds a new approach.

That is exactly what serving police officer Charlie Gallagher has done in this clever police procedural. Detective Sergeant Maddie Ives is part of a CID team investigating day-to-day crimes, and also does a spot of borderline moonlighting, supporting women with abusive partners. One of these women is Grace Hughes, who is keeping a diary of her partner Craig's worst excesses and planning her escape.

When a major bombing incident means it's all hands to the investigative pump, Maddie is distracted; and when a young man whose activities she has been looking into is found dead, she finds she has even less time for her extra-curricular work. And then there's DI Harry Blaker; he and Maddie have history, and he has now returned to work following a serious injury, demanding that she help him out with a possible blackmail case.

Meanwhile, Grace has plans of her own...

Charlie Gallagher's hands-on experience of a detective's workload is very much in evidence almost from the start of this tightly woven novel. The police officers have personal lives, but no time to pursue them; it's easy to see how obvious clues can slip through the net when there simply isn't time to follow every lead – especially when witnesses aren't telling them the whole story. 

The characters too are well observed. Harry Blaker is gruff and abrasive, but perceptive and determined to get his man. Grace Hughes is downtrodden and unconfident but reveals a core of steel. A host of supporting players also come across clearly: bombastic Frank Dolton; cocky Toby Routledge, inevitably heading for a sticky end; Rhiannon the promising young detective constable, and Vince the uniformed officer with ambitions.

Maddie herself is dedicated and hard-working, tough and compassionate. She has all the makings of a series protagonist – especially when a move to Major Crime is hinted at towards the end.

I especially enjoyed the way the various disparate threads of the plot all came together to create a picture that was there all along if only both reader and police had seen the connections. Now, that's good crime fiction.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Charlie Gallagher has been a serving UK police officer for ten years. During that time he has had many roles, starting as a front-line response officer, then a member of a specialist tactical team and is currently a detective investigating serious offences. Charlie is the author of four Lanthorne police procedurals. His new series features DS Maddie Ives.

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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