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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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.