Source: Review copy
Publication: 16th May 2019 from Bonnier Books
Sara! Remember! Victoria and Albert. All I can say. They’re here. They’re-‘
These are the last words Sara Prior will ever hear from her husband.
As DS Nathan Cody struggles to make sense of the enigmatic message and solve the brutal murder, it soon becomes clear that Sara is no ordinary bereaved wife. Taking the investigation into her own hands, Sara is drawn into a world of violence that will lead her in a direction she would never have suspected.
For Cody, meanwhile, things are about to get personal in the darkest and most twisted ways imaginable . . .
Warning: Contains very creepy clowns!
Every now and again I pick up a book by an author I don’t know and get that frisson of excitement that tells me I have found a new author and series that I just have to read. Why no-one ever told me about David Jackson and his D.S. Nathan Cody series, I have no idea, but from this, the 4th in the series, I know I have to go back to the beginning and read the whole lot.
Though this is the 4th, it reads just fine as a stand-alone, but will leave you wanting to know the whole backstory of how D.S. Cody of the Liverpool Police Major Incident Team arrives in the damaged state that he does; back on duty after an enforced leave of absence but clearly both physically and psychologically more fragile than before.
Your Deepest Fear grabbed me from the first. This is fast paced, exciting writing that gets your attention from the beginning and never lets go. Sara Prior is returning from a trip to her native Copenhagen. Recently separated from her husband Matthew, whom she misses enormously, she isn’t looking forward to going back to an empty house.
When she hears a cryptic message on her answering machine, she is seriously alarmed and heads straight off to Matthew’s new flat. Matthew, a quiet and gentle man, works at the Inland Revenue as an e-learning analyst, but some months ago he started to become even more withdrawn and depressive and that was when he left Sara.
Sara is of a different character to Matthew; she is confident and self-assured. Her military service as a native of Denmark has honed her fighting skills and she can certainly look after herself. Heading into Matthew’s flat, though, she is not prepared for what she will find. Matthew is dead – brutally murdered.
DS Nathan Cody has been clearly instructed by his boss, DCI Stella Blunt, that he is not to go anywhere near a fatal death crime scene until he has been assessed by a psychologist and cleared fit for duty. Cody is sent to interview Sara. He thinks she knows more than she is telling him, but her alibi for the murder is watertight.
Matthew’s laptop is missing and the team are puzzling over what could be on it that this mild tax analyst could have that a killer might want?
Sara, in the meantime, is determined to track down those who killed her husband. No stranger to stealth fighting, she makes her way through Liverpool’s seedier joints to find the man that Matthew’s cryptic message has pointed to.
Jackson gives us a dual trajectory for this story arc. Cody is off on a tangent of his own, brushing aside his team, and fixating on Waldo, his newly re-appeared clown nemesis, who winds him up like a clockwork toy and watched as he revs off in any direction that Waldo sends him. It is obvious that Waldo enjoys a sadistic game of pushing Cody’s buttons and Cody is too damaged and too close to the edge to realise that he’s being played.
Meanwhile Sara is also following a trail of breadcrumbs which she hopes will lead her to Matthew’s killers. It’s when their trajectories meet that all seems lost and we begin to wonder if either will come out alive.
Edgy, viscerally raw and incredibly tense, this really is a book that could easily give you nightmares. Those clowns are truly creepy and utterly malevolent and Waldo has to go down as one of the most evil protagonists out there.
I loved this introduction to DS Cody. Now excuse me while I pop out more of David Jackson’s books…
Verdict: Dark, creepy, intense, yet with a leavening humour, this is a terrific, fast-paced read for anyone who does not suffer from coulrophobia.
David Jackson is the bestselling author of Cry Baby and Don’t Make A Sound. His debut novel, Pariah, was Highly Commended in the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Daggers Awards. He lives on the Wirral peninsula with his wife and two daughters.