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Sunday, 29 December 2019

‘Their Final Moments’ by Jane Adams

Published by Joffe Books,
30 April 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-78931-104-4 (PB)
First published as two separate books:
Fade to Grey (1998)
and Final Frame (1999)

This is the third in the D.I. Mike Croft series published by Joffe Books previously published as two separate titles. 

Part One (1998). We know from the outset, indeed from the blurb on the book’s cover, that the killer is Jake Bowen. Not just a killer, either, but an artist who photographs the dying whom he has killed either in their final death agonies or in more aesthetic poses to form images of great beauty. All just as dead, however, and not only satisfying his lust to create beautiful art but commanding good prices in the darkest places of the internet.

Mike Croft of the Norwich police is initially drawn into this mesh of evil by a simple quest to find the perpetrator of a sexual attack on a young girl, Stacey Holmes, in a park. She escapes but is injured and hospitalised and so traumatised that she can remember nothing about the attack. There have in fact been a number of such attacks – are they linked?

At about the same time, on the other side of the country near the ancient monuments of Avebury Stone Circle and the Silbury Mound in Wiltshire, a young woman’s body is found in a burning car. This death is investigated by DCI Charlie Morrow and his team, based in Devises. She is identified as Marion O’Donnel.

A young man, out with his friends, becomes separated from them and is abducted by Jake.

A young girl, Sarah Phillips, accompanying her mother to an aerobics class is abducted. Her boyfriend Terry Ryan disappears, and his mother Judith is frantic.

Someone is writing to Tom Andrews on the local Norwich paper, The Chronicle, and taunting him with the failure to find the person responsible for these attacks. But forensic analysis indicates that there are not one but two attackers. So, are there two serial killers?

Mike’s old friend, former police officer John Tynan, calls on his friend, actress Theo Howard, only to find that she has died. Her death at first seems to be an accident but the post-mortem reveals it is not. And Davy Martin, her much younger lover, has disappeared.

What role is Max Harriman, childhood friend and great admirer of Jake Bowen, whose consciousness we enter into from time to time, playing? 

As Croft and Charlie Morrow and their respective teams begin their painstaking investigations, they start to discover links between these deaths, even the one in Wiktshire, and also involving Croft's lover, hospital psychiarist Maria and also leading to those who trade in pornographic and sadistic videos. Eventually Max, taken in by the police on grounds of suspicion of some of the attacks, lets slip the name of Jake Bowen. Can the police get to Bowen before there are more deaths? 

Part Two (1999). Although responsibility for many of the deaths including that of Theo Howard is established and Max Harriman is in prison and despite continued investigation by Mike Croft, there is no clue as to the whereabouts of Jake Bowen. But he is still active, and still seeking publicity. Two journalists on a West Country newspaper, after a tip-off, go to a wood where they find the body of a lovely young woman beautifully laid out. Horrifying enough. But when newspapers are sent photographs of the two journalists and their appalled expressions it becomes apparent that the journalists were themselves being spied on. Now it is the turn of Bristol and Avon police led by Chief Inspector Pearson to investigate, along with Croft and Morrow (who has been seriously injured in an explosion intended to kill him). But there is still no lead to Jake’s whereabouts who seems to be able to alter his identity and his appearance at will. And then Jake’s father Alastair contacts the police and Croft begins to understand how his father’s cold and unloving personality contributed to Jake’s evil personality. But at the same time, Bowen is threatening the family of DCI Pearson. And then, even worse for Mike Croft, there is a threat to Essie, the adored niece of Croft’s lover Maria.

I have not had the advantage of reading either of these books when individually published so I am not sure of how the narrative has been remodelled to take account of the restructuring. However, the weaving together of the various strands of the plot in Part One to make a highly complex but convincing plot. Part Two is a lot less complex but the introduction of Jake’s father provides a fascinating insight into such a flawed personality. Recommended.
Reviewer: Radmila May

Jane Adams was born in Leicestershire, where she still lives. She has a degree in Sociology and has held a variety of jobs including lead vocalist in a folk-rock band. She enjoys pen and ink drawing; martial arts and her ambition is to travel the length of the Silk Road by motorbike. Her first book, The Greenway, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Award in 1995 and for the Author's Club Best First Novel Award. Jane writes several series.  Her first series featured Mike Croft. There are several books featuring DS Ray Flowers. Twelve titles featuring blind Naoimi Blake, and more recently seven books featuring Rina Martin. Her latest series is set in the 1920’s and features Chief Inspector Henry Johnson. Jane has also written three standalone novels. She is married with two children.

Radmila May was born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice. Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology – and is now concentrating on her own writing.

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