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Monday 4 April 2022

‘The Last Commandment’ by Scott Shepherd.

Published by Head of Zeus,
3 February 2022. 
ISBN: 978-1-80110-467-8 (HB)

Christmas is approaching and Metropolitan Police Commander Austin Grant is considering his forthcoming retirement after 30 years with the Met.  But such thoughts are set aside, when it seems that a serial killer is operating.  When three murder victims are found to have sequential roman numerals carved on their foreheads, and a chance conversation leads to the realisation that the numbers represent the Ten Commandments, the search is on to find the killer before other transgressors are killed.  Attention unexpectedly focuses on the USA, when the fourth victim is found in New York.  The investigation becomes a joint exercise and Grant goes to New York and forms a good working relationship with John Frankel (a NYPD detective).  Somewhat to Grant’s surprise, he also ends up working with his estranged daughter, Rachel, who is currently an investigative reporter in the city.  Rachel has inherited her father’s investigative skills, and working with her gives him the opportunity to try and discover why she has chosen to have little contact with him in recent years. 

One course of inquiry is to identify and find likely victims and this does save one life, but the action moves back to London, where the death toll rises and includes one of Grant’s closest officers.  As the hunt moves in on the killer, an unexpected twist takes the group to Zermatt where Grant is forced to confront his fear of heights and the murderer.

This is a fast-moving police procedural, and the author’s screenwriting experience is in evidence.  The action is non-stop, the pace doesn’t falter and it makes for a quick read.  The final chapters resolve some of Grant’s personal issues as well as providing a tense resolution to the murders.  This is the first in a series and readers will be looking forward to the second book.

Reviewer: Jo Hesslewood

Scott Shepherd was born in New York City but moved to California around the time he first started crawling. Growing up in Los Angeles, he saw plenty of movies and Dodger games before heading up north to get his B.A. in English at Stanford University. Scott is a veteran writer/producer/show-runner with years of experience running network series, having overseen hundreds of hours of television. His extensive list of credits includes some of the most popular hit series from the past three decades: "The Equalizer", "Miami Vice", "Quantum Leap", "Tru Calling" and "The Dead Zone" to name a few. He has also collaborated with a number of best-selling novelists on various television projects including Stephen King, Harlan Coben and Karin Slaughter. He is also currently teaching television writing in the graduate program at the University of Texas, Austin. When he isn't trying to make a television deadline, you'll probably find Scott traveling with his wife Holly somewhere -- usually to a big sporting event or wherever Bruce Springsteen is playing.

Jo Hesslewood.  Crime fiction has been my favourite reading material since as a teenager I first spotted Agatha Christie on the library bookshelves.  For twenty-five years the commute to and from London provided plenty of reading time.  I am fortunate to live in Cambridge, where my local crime fiction book club, Crimecrackers, meets at Heffers Bookshop .  I enjoy attending crime fiction events and currently organise events for the Margery Allingham Society.

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