Getting into the mind of a killer isn’t for the faint of heart… Psychologist Alice Quentin must track down a murderer in the City, in this thrilling novel.
At the height of a summer heatwave, a killer stalks the City of London.
The avenging angel leaves behind a scattering of feathers with each body – but why these victims? What were their sins?
Psychologist Alice Quentin only agrees to help out on the case because she owes Detective Don Burns a favour. But soon she finds herself deep in the toxic heart of the Square Mile – a place where money means more than life, and no one can be counted innocent.
This is the second book in the Dr Alice Quentin series following on from the excellent Cross Bones Yard. Here we have a number of Murders all linked to a City of London – specifically the Angel Bank.
Alice is brought in by D I Burns who we met in the first book but has now been moved to another team. He has had work problems which led to a separation from his wife. The new job isn’t going well because he has not been accepted by his team especially his deputy DS Steve Taylor who believes he should have got the job. Alice hardly recognises him since he has changed having become a ‘by the book’ police officer, he’s obviously under a lot of stress and has also, purposely, lost a lot of weight. She’s concerned about the toxic atmosphere he is working in which is compounded by Burns’ boss DSI Lorraine Brotherton.
At first she agrees to working with the police again mainly because of her concern over Burns. She has her ‘day job’ as a psychologist as well.
It’s the middle of a heatwave in London and Kate Rhodes brings not only a great sense of place but of atmosphere to the story. You can feel the claustrophobic heat as Alice pounds the city streets of London or swelters in her office whilst trying to work with clients or catch up with paperwork. The heat also brings an added layer of tension to the book. Alice is attacked by Darren, one of her clients, he seems obsessed with her and he has form having been in prison for GBH. Nevertheless, Alice won’t press charges but rather tries to get Darren the help she feels he needs. This ongoing thread runs alongside the investigation that Alice is called in on. A banker has been murdered. Left at the scene is a postcard of an angel and some white feathers. Alice is convinced that the attack is personal rather than for some financial reason but Burns isn’t sure and wants to keep his options open. This brings another layer of tension in the story as Alice struggles to make Burns see what she means without making him further alienated.
As the murder count increases it is the relationships, or lack of, that is stymying the investigation as Burns and Taylor lead themselves down dead end after dead end. Alice seemingly unable to persuade Burns with her reasoning and finding that Taylor is incapable of doing anything that would support Burns which includes not only being full of himself, capable of going behind Burns’ back to his boss in order to look good but also being downright offensive and antagonist to Alice.
With all this going on and being followed by the obsessive Darren, her project funding being cut Alice is struggling to work out what is happening. Will, her brother, is causing concern and her mother is driving her to distraction. Her social life has become another strand of her job as she gets her friends to help with getting information for her on the Angel Bank and its employees. Then she meets Andrew at a ‘do’ she and Burns went to about the case but encouraged by her good friend Lola to go out with him. Lola’s a great character and some welcome light relief in the story. She’s definitely routing for Alice and Andrew as she really wants to see Alice move on from what happened in the first book and realise that there are still some good guys about. Is Andrew one of them or has his previous life at Angel Bank led him into a dark place?
Who is committing these murders and why? Alice must filter out the distractions. She must work out the misdirections because Burns and Taylor, pressed perhaps by Brotherton or each other or both, are grasping at the easy or perhaps it’s the more obvious options and certainly don’t seem to be listening to Alice. In the meantime, more bodies are found proving them wrong.
It’s a call for help that will not only find Alice in immediate danger but will finally resolve the matter of why and who. In this terrific book which I thoroughly enjoyed.
I like Dr Alice Quentin as a character. She isn’t perfect but she is caring and astute. She has good friends and colleagues who may be on the periphery but are clearly supportive, helpful and give Alice that necessary relief she needs.
This is quite a complex book with so much going on but the murder mystery is fascinating set amongst the fat-cat banking fraternity which, since 2008 if not before, we have come not only to dislike but to distrust. The thread regarding the angels, pictures of which are left with the bodies, is just that extra interest we find in these books and I enjoyed not only what was in the story but looking them up on the internet as I read. The clash of the police also set a different tone – whilst Alice had been brought into the investigation by them she was being more and more isolated, leaving her to follow up on her own – this is not a police procedural. Alice is the main character so we have a different perspective and, perhaps, a little more unorthodox.
I really enjoyed reading this second book in the Dr Alice Quentin series. I very much recommend and look forward to reading more.
I own and have read all the books in the Hell Bay series and many of the Alice Quentin series. Here are my thoughts on those I have reviewed: Hell Bay | Ruin Beach | Burnt Island | Pulpit Rock|Cross Bones Yard (Dr Alice Quentin #1) | Fatal Harmony (Dr Alice Quentin, #6)
Well that’s my 15th read and review done! This book was from my original list. So 5 to go! I’m unlikely to get all twenty in this year but I’ve read 15 and I’ll probably manage a couple more. So, back to reading I go!
Author: Kate Rhodes was born in Greenwich, in South London, but now lives in Cambridge. She is a member of the crime writing group Killer Women, and an award-winning writer of crime fiction and poetry. She began her writing career as a poet, winning a Bridport Prize, and twice being shortlisted for the Forward Prize. In 2014 she won the Ruth Rendell Short Story prize. She has written 5 crime novels in the acclaimed Alice Quentin series, set in London. Her new Hell Bay series is set on the Isles of Scilly and has been optioned for TV.
Kate worked in a wide variety of jobs before becoming a writer. Her first job was as an usherette at Greenwich Theatre, followed by years as a sales assistant in a record shop, waitressing, then finally going to university. Kate completed a PhD, then spent two years travelling and teaching in Florida and Texas, before returning to the UK, where she has taught in sixth form colleges and universities.
She often gives creative writing workshops in schools, colleges and prisons. Kate also contributes regularly to panels at literary festivals.
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