Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Book Review: CAST IRON by Peter May

Cast Iron (The Enzo Files, #6)

Title: Cast Iron
Author: Peter May
Quercus Books
March 2017

Synopsis (Goodreads):

West of France, 1989.

A weeping killer deposits the unconscious body of nineteen year old Lucie Martin, her head wrapped in a blue plastic bag, into the water of a picturesque lake.

Lot-et-Garonne, 2003.

Fourteen years later a summer heatwave parches the earth, killing trees and bushes and drying out streams. In the scorched mud and desiccated slime of the lake a fisherman finds a skeleton wearing a bag over its skull.

Paris, October 2011.

In an elegant apartment in Paris, forensic expert Enzo Macleod pores over the scant evidence of this, the sixth cold case he has been challenged to solve. In taking on this old and seemingly impossible task he will put everything and everyone he holds dear in a peril he could never have imagined.

My thoughts:

In 2003, the skeleton of a young woman is recovered from a dry riverbed in France, but her murder remains unsolved. Until the cold case falls into the hands of forensic expert Enzo McLeod, who has vowed to solve six cold cases as part of a bet with his son-in-law, journalist Roger Raffin. But the closer Enzo gets to uncovering the truth, the more dangerous the game becomes, and soon he finds that his own family is in danger from people who will stop at nothing to keep the truth hidden.

Cast Iron is the sixth book in the Enzo McLeod series, and I can see that for followers of the series it would provide many answers and bring together threads woven in earlier books. May’s writing style is engaging and driven by action and dialogue, making this a very readable and intriguing mystery. Unfortunately I did not think it worked well as a stand-alone book. Not having read any of the previous novels in the series, I was often confused about the intricate family relationships of the McLeod clan. Enzo seems to have a maelstrom of ex-partners and children from different relationships, one of whom is not even his blood relation since his ex-wife had an affair with his best friend. Another one of his ex-wives (who seems to loathe him) is also the ex-partner of Enzo’s daughter’s fiancé, who Enzo had an affair with - which would make for a rather strained relationship on all levels! Enzo’s bad track record with women has not deterred him from pursuing new romances, however, so the book is a tangle of old and new relationships like an intricate Celtic knot I had no hope of unravelling in one sitting. Since character development had obviously evolved over the previous five books, I felt very estranged from most of the protagonists and never really warmed to any of them, which greatly affected my reading enjoyment. As it was, I felt like I had walked in at the end of a movie, and missed all the lead-up to the grand finale.

I am sure that fans of the series will enjoy this novel much more than I did, as it is cleverly constructed and has elements of action and suspense which at times distracted even me from my confusion and carried me along in their wake. May clearly knows how to write, with plenty of red herrings and a surprising twist I did not see coming. However, I would recommend reading the series in order to get the most out of the different threads of the storyline as well as the multiple characters featuring in it.

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

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