Source: Review copy
Publication: 16 October 2020 in e-book and 24 December 2020 in paperback
My thanks to the publisher for an advance copy of this book for review purposes
A murdered woman…
When the body of a young woman is found in a local park, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she’s dealing with no ordinary killer. The murder victim has been disfigured; her outfit changed to resemble someone else. Someone Maggie knows all too well…her close friend Dr Kate Moloney.
A determined detective…
Maggie is determined to keep her friend safe, but with Kate already struggling with a threatening stalker, Maggie now fears Kate’s life is in real danger. Who else would want to harm Kate and why else would the killer be turning his victims into exact replicas – his living dolls?
Can Maggie find the depraved killer? Or will Kate become his next living doll?
It is my huge pleasure to help celebrate the launch of this excellent thriller and I wish the author, Noelle Holten every success with this book, she certainly deserves it. Happy Publication Day, Noelle!
Now…to my review…
It’s my own fault, I know that. If I just hadn’t googled that instrument mentioned in the prologue, I’m sure my stomach would not have squicked quite so much reading this book. But I did, and the feeling of dread and apprehension that the prologue left me with didn’t really go away for the rest of the book.
I was so keen to read Dead Perfect. At the end of Dead Wrong, we knew Dr Kate Maloney was in trouble, but how much trouble we learn quite quickly in this novel. The body of a young woman is found and Staffordshire Police quickly realise that she has been carefully dressed and her appearance changed so that her appearance becomes horribly close to that of one of their own – Dr Kate Maloney, the psychiatrist who often works with the team. Is this the stalker that has Kate so worried? Maggie is convinced that Kate is in danger and the team agree.
Moreover, it soon seems that the stalker’s actions are escalating when another body is found, dressed and mutilated and with a tattooed mark similar to that found on the first victim. What does it all mean and why?
Maggie is beside herself with worry. Her burgeoning friendship with Kate is impacting on her professional competence and she is short with colleagues and impetuous in her actions. You’d expect that, in a this kind of situation, her bosses would not be too impressed with this kind of behaviour, and you’d be right. Kate is slapped down hard more than once by her boss, the recently promoted DS Nathan Wright who tells her that she’s close to being taken off the case if she can’t keep her emotions in check.
Not only that, but the circumstances of this case mean that she’s forced to work with Julie Noble, the sly and pushy journalist who has given her such grief and who previously publicly impugned her capabilities .
In a fast paced and decidedly dark police procedural, Noelle Holten is not afraid to show us a team of competent officers sifting carefully through the evidence but being frustrated at every turn as their suspects alibi out. The tension is palpable and the nerves fraying as this team know that keeping Kate Maloney safe is their paramount concern along with catching the perpetrator, but Kate isn’t good at handling close supervision.
I love the way that Holten plays across the whole integrated multi-agency team from social care and domestic abuse through to probation, psychology and the Police. It gives hera broad canvas to work across and an excellent team of characters to choose from. Each book can be read as a stand-alone, but now we are beginning to get a real sense of characters and character development, it will pay off to read these books in order.
In this book, we not only learn more about Maggie, but aspects of Kate Maloney’s past are also revealed; things Kate wanted to stay in the past and which show us that she is more vulnerable than we might have imagined as we looked at her goth like appearance and the veneer of her confident and assertive approach to her work.
I also really like that Noelle Holten doesn’t have everything go the way her characters would like. Here you will not find easy answers or convenient clues, but you will find solid police work and a morass of evidence that leads the team in circles until they work out what they have missed.
It feels authentic and that in turn leads to a greater excitement when, once they know they are on the right track, the team are quickly able to piece together the story. And what a story! Though I knew pretty early who the perpetrator was likely to be, I had no sense at all of why and what their motivation might be.
Verdict: Holten is full of surprises and this really helps to distinguish this book from the standard police procedural. Another tension filled cracker from the Staffordshire team in a series that is fast becoming unmissable.
Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at http://www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and was a regular reviewer on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. Noelle worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of cases including those involving serious domestic abuse. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog.