Source: Review copy
Publication: 28 April 2022 from Bonnier Zaffre
My thanks to Bonnier Books for an advance copy for review and to Compulsive Readers for the blog tour opportunity
Two men are found dead in London’s Battersea Park. One of the bodies has been laid out like a crucifix – with his eyes removed and placed on his open palms.
Detective Inspector Grace Archer and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, lead the investigation. But when more bodies turn up in a similar fashion, they find themselves in a race against time to find the sadistic killer.
The hunt leads them to Ladywell Playtower in Southeast London, the home to a religious commune lead by the enigmatic Aaron Cronin. Archer and Quinn suspect Cronin’s involvement but his alibis are watertight, and the truth seemingly buried. If Archer is to find the killer, she must first battle her way through religious fanatics, London gangsters – and her own demons . . .
After reading The Art of Death, the first in the Grace Archer series, it seemed like an awfully long wait for the follow up, See No Evil. It wasn’t, but I was so eager to read this one, I was champing at the bit.
D.I. Grace Archer is a great character; a police inspector with a terrible past to overcome – a past that still disturbs her sleep on a regular basis. She’s still making enemies within the force – for all the right reasons – but that isn’t doing her reputation any favours. D.S. Harry Quinn, solid as a rock is by her side, but he too sometimes feels like the weight of the world is on his shoulders.
Grace has tenacity and courage, but Fennell also shows us her caring, compassionate side. She is the detective who, in the midst of a personal and professional maelstrom, still takes the time to pick up the phone to someone who got dealt a wrong turn and it is Grace who understands the importance of letting that person know what action has been taken to redress the imbalance. She is caring and compassionate; worries about her closest relative and she is a driven and relentless workaholic.
David Fennell’s books are distinctly on the dark side of crime fiction and this police procedural deals with another set of inventive and sadistic deaths at the hands of a clearly depraved killer. See No Evil is full of the kind of characters who set your teeth on edge; you know the ones – so creepy that you can hear their fingernails scratching down the blackboard just to make you wince.
David Fennell offers up lots of dodgy characters, including a couple that I just loved. He is quite a cinematic writer and it’s easy to visualise all his characters and the settings which made it feel like I was watching a film as I was reading. His plotting is tight and the use of the present tense gives the book an immediate, fast paced feel that really propels it forward.
The storyline involves all kinds of nasties from religious cults to Grace’s own past and as we get to know Grace better, and care more about her, so we need her to triumph over the evil that she battles on a number of fronts. Fennell complements her character with a team of people around her who we are also coming to better understand; not all of them, however, are Archer fans.
Verdict: See No Evil is gruesome and both tense and intense in all the right places. The fiendishly clever, multi-layered plotting has very quickly meant that this addictive series has earned its place in the list of crime series I can’t live without.
David Fennell was born and raised in Belfast before leaving for London at the age of eighteen with £50 in one pocket and a dog-eared copy of Stephen King’s The Stand in the other. He jobbed as a chef, waiter and bartender for several years before starting a career in writing for the software industry. He has been working in CyberSecurity for fourteen years and is a fierce advocate for information privacy. David has played rugby for Brighton and has studied Creative Writing at the University of Sussex. He is married and he and his partner split their time between Central London and Brighton.