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Thursday 15 September 2022

‘Detective in a Coma: Vile City’ by Jennifer Lee Thomson

Published by Diamond Books Ltd,
24 November 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-83840268-6 (PB)

When Detective Sergeant Stevie Campbell is assaulted on duty, he cheats death, but only just, and whilst he languishes in hospital, DS Brian McKeith has taken his place on Detective Inspector Waddell’s team.  McKeith has yet to impress his new boss who is wading through the in-tray from Hell that includes a spate of robberies as well as two missing women. To make matters worse, the new DS has just informed Waddell that another woman has disappeared.  This time, however, there is a witness.  Shelley’s boyfriend was also attacked, and the detectives are hoping that he might be able to give them a lead.

The third person narrative moves primarily between the perspectives of Waddell and Shelley, though other points of view are also related.  This juxtaposition creates an almost cinematographic feel to the story as it flips from the police investigation to the description of the imprisoned woman.  Waddell’s team must first determine whether there is a link between the women who have disappeared. Shelley on the other hand does not wait for the cavalry to arrive and makes a series of valiant attempts to escape her captives.  By foregrounding these two points of view, the writer creates two intriguing characters who often defy readers’ expectations.

The contrasting viewpoints create a plot that is fast, forceful, and absorbing. There are several scenes of brutality and some graphic depictions of sex trafficking, that are hard to read.  Crucially, though, the writer has provided female characters who are combative and resourceful.  There are also moments of poignancy.  For example, when Waddell visits Stevie in hospital he is clearly traumatised to see his erstwhile partner’s condition; sometimes he believes he is conversing with his old pal, and this causes him to doubt his sanity.  Similarly, Shelley’s valiant attempts to escape provoke empathy as well as admiration.

Detective in a Coma: Vile City is a tough Scottish thriller that explores the appalling trade in human beings.  It also examines how resilience and determination can carry us through the worst of times.  If gritty crime is your thing, you’ll enjoy this book.  I did, particularly the deliciously, dark twist at the end.

Reviewer: Dot Marshall-Gent

Jennifer Lee Thomson is an award-winning crime writer who has been scribbling away all her life. She also writes as Jenny Thomson and is an animal and human rights advocate.

Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction.  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for taking the time to review Vile City, Dot. Much appreciated and thanks for having me on your blog, Lizzie:)