Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Book Review: THE GUILTY by Sean Slater

The Guilty (Jacob Striker #3)

The Guilty
Author: Sean Slater
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Read: April 15 - 22, 2013

Synopsis (Goodreads):




It's clear to Homicide Detective Jacob Striker and his partner Felicia Santos that the two incidents are linked. But with no demands being made by the bomber, and no known connection between the victims, uncovering the motive seems impossible.

When Detective Harry Eckhart disappears, taking with him the lone survivor. His actions make no sense, and they force Striker to redirect his focus onto his fellow cops. It is an investigation Striker would prefer to avoid,but cannot - For the bomber is about to strike again.

And this time, it's much closer to home...

My thoughts:

Sean Slater is an exciting new voice in the world of crime fiction, giving the reader a glimpse into Vancouver’s underworld and the experiences of the courageous police officers fighting a daily battle against crime in the city’s most troubled neighbourhoods.

After receiving a 911 call of a distressed young woman near an abandoned factory in one of Vancouver’s industrial areas, Jacob Striker and his partner Felicia Santos discover an improvised torture chamber where moments before a woman had been held hostage. Despite swift action by Striker, the perpetrator manages to escape with his victim. Through the victim’s unusual bracelet left behind at the scene, Striker manages to trace the name of the abducted woman – Dr Sharise Owens, a well respected trauma surgeon who has been missing from work for days.

Later that same day, Striker and Felicia get called to the site of an explosion which has destroyed a toy shop in central Vancouver, killing the owner in the blast. Thoughts of an accidental gas explosion are soon dismissed when Striker discovers that the toymaker was Sharise Owen’s cousin. As more explosions follow, the detectives must race against time to find a link between the victims which would give them clues to find the perpetrator before more lives are lost. Things become infinitely more complicated when it involves some of their own ….

The author, who is a real-life police officer in one of the toughest neighbourhoods in Vancouver, clearly draws on his own experience to create an atmosphere of action and suspense and create believable characters. Personally for me, one of the most satisfying aspects of a good police procedural is the background information, the how-to’s of the investigative process as well as an insight into procedural guidelines and forensics. As a police officer Slater has had first hand experience in these details and generously shares information with the reader which adds an element of authenticity and credibility to the novel.

When I first started reading Slater’s latest novel I was unaware that The Guilty is the third book in the Jacob Striker series, and heavily builds on previous novels in terms of character development. Although the story can be read as a stand-alone novel, I often felt that there were important details I was missing, for example to understand the somewhat complicated relationship between Striker and his partner Felicia Santos. It took me some time to work out the group dynamics and characters’ histories the book builds on, which created some distance between myself and the characters. I could never quite work out Felicia Santos, and admit I did not warm to her at all. Striker himself is a likeable hero in the mould of other famous crime novel protagonists such as Lee Child’s Jack Reacher or Dennis Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie – a bit of a loner, a man fighting for justice, not afraid to take action and even step out of line every now and then to achieve his means. The action itself involves Vancouver’s underworld, exploring the dark and sinister elements of the city.

The Guilty will appeal to readers who enjoy action packed police procedurals and are not afraid of a large cast of characters and a plot which changes direction many times throughout the book’s 579 pages, keeping an element of surprise to the very end of the story. However, if I had my time over again, I would definitely start with the first of the series, and read them in order to get a better understanding of the characters’ backgrounds.

Thank you to the publisher and the Reading Room for providing me with a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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