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4.0 out of 5 starsWorth a whirl
Reviewed in the United States on December 6, 2020
This opens well, the cast is well set up and the writing nicely balanced. The plot .moves along neatly - all very believable and not soaked in gore. The ending was not unpredictable but it was enjoyable with comic overtones. Original too. All in all a decent read. Refreshing that the author did not overdo the gore and body count and that the evil psychopath is not the central chracter. A well deserved four. it just didn't feel like a five.
5.0 out of 5 starsA brilliantly twisted mystery with an excellent cast of characters
Reviewed in the United States on October 22, 2020
The Body on the Island is the sixth book in the DCI Craig Gillard series, set in Surrey, England. I’ve read all of these in order over the last couple of years, but each book is a stand-alone mystery and there are no spoilers for the earlier instalments, so there’d be no problem starting here if you haven’t read the others. I had enjoyed most of the previous books, but been frustrated by the lack of development of Craig’s team, and by the way the female characters were portrayed, especially in the last one (The Body Under the Bridge.) I was delighted to discover that this one has remedied all of my complaints, and Louth has produced a brilliantly twisted mystery with an excellent cast of characters.
On a hot midsummer night, a naked body washes up on a tiny island in the Thames, but the post-mortem reveals that the unknown Asian man did not drown, but was crushed to death with an unusual pattern imprinted on his skin. Craig and his team have no idea what could’ve caused it, but discover suspicious activity going on at a nearby stately home with some very exotic inhabitants. Meanwhile, serial child killer Neville Rollason is preparing for his release into the community after serving thirty years for his crimes. The media and citizens organisations are outraged, and vigilante groups think he deserves to die, but the parole board see a frail old man who has now repented. Unfortunately Neville is itching to get back to his sadistic habits - starting with revenge against everyone who has wronged him - especially the man who arrested him - a young PC Gillard...
Wowee this was clever: you think you know where he’s going with the plot, but there is no way you’ll guess this one, and the eventual reveal is of the most grotesque murder methods I’ve ever come across. I still can’t quite believe he went there, but admire both the ingenuity and the brass neck of it. (I do confess to a tiny twinge of disappointment that it wasn’t Nora!) I was fascinated by all the details of the parole process, and could sympathise in part with the characters planning to intervene with their own brand of justice, when it seems that the manipulative psychopath is the one with all the rights. The conflict of knowing they’re in the wrong, but half-hoping they succeed - since we know from the chilling sections of Neville’s POV what he has planned - was perfectly orchestrated. I was also introduced to a phenomenon I’d never heard of but am too scared to lookup on YouTube - there are some things you just don’t want in your browser history!
I really liked the way Gillard is portrayed here - he’s evolved from the macho Superman who has to do everything himself, into an effective leader who trusts his team and plays to their strengths - particularly cheeky Glaswegian former doctor & single parent Rainy, and cool, calm and collected DI Claire, who both have crucial roles in the investigation. We learn enough about their personal lives to round them out without in any way distracting from the action. Even the sexist dinosaurs on the force are called out for their behaviour. I’ve had limited sympathy in the previous books for Craig’s wife Sam, and didn’t understand their relationship at all, but this one shows us how she’s fighting to get over the trauma of past events and the tender side of their marriage, and I liked her much more this time. I especially admired the important new characters Felicia and Anton - their experiences of racism from both the police and people in general felt very current in the 2020 climate. The British crime genre remains very white, so I respect any author that features a more diverse array of characters in their series. Another issue which I won’t name but became important to the plot (no spoilers) was very relevant to us here in NZ, and brought a new perspective to a contentious debate.
My only niggles were some implausible coincidences in terms of connections between characters, and the decisions around where Neville was being placed that didn’t make sense but were necessary for the plot. These were minor and didn’t detract from my enjoyment one bit. 4.5 rounded up for great writing and sheer inventiveness. My thanks to NetGalley and Canelo for the ARC which allowed me to give an honest review.
A serial killer named Neville Rollason is being released. Literally everyone wants to know where he is being resettled. However, with a new identity and not looking at all like he did when he was first incarcerated years earlier, it is going to be tough to figure out where he is. Special Branch and the probation service are being tight-lipped and nothing is written down. The “reformed” serial killer has already made his plans – for revenge.
People who are connected to Rollason's murders are getting threatening phone calls...
At the same time a man of Asian extraction is murdered and thrown in the Thames. He has very unusual markings on his body. Who is he? How did he get the odd markings on his body? Witness report a white BMW and three people on the bridge, but the police officers can't get a straight answer from two of the people who say they were the only ones there.
There is much more to this story than the blurb would lead one to believe. There are several characters and sub-plots of which to keep track. The witnesses and involved individuals are beautifully drawn and very life like. The reader certainly gets a grasp on who they are.
I had not a clue who the murderer was. And the method – oh my! This book has several surprises in it just waiting to ambush the reader. It is a great story on all levels. The writing and plotting are most certainly well done. Mr. Louth is a remarkable writer who has cooked up a very original plot line for this book. I have enjoyed his previous books as well. I am looking forward to the next in this series.
I want to thank NetGalley and Canelo for forwarding to me a copy of this very good book for me to read, enjoy and review.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 22, 2020
Craig Gillard is a Detective Chief Inspector these days, commanding a serious crime squad very nicely, thank you. When he was just starting out however, his career got the boost every copper dreams of. Standing outside a shopping centre handing out leaflets he happened to see a car which had been mentioned in the latest police flyers.
Chasing down a criminal was a little easier for him back in the day and Craig took off down the street after the fleeing child killer who was one of England's most wanted. Thirty years later his parole has been agreed and he's about to be released back into the community with differing senses of acceptance from all the outside agencies involved.
With the rumour mill saying repeatedly that the killer is to be housed in his area Craig knows he must keep his wits about him but how successfully can they keep him safe when there is no information about where he will be staying or what his new identity is? No-one even knows what he looks like any more! Added to this is the small matter of an unidentified dead body being dropped into the Thames and Gillard knows he's in for a busy few days!
Once again Nick Louth has written an excellent novel which seems to start off slowly until suddenly you realise just how much has actually happened and you can't put it down until you're done. There are coincidences to get past but what lifts it to a five star novel, without spoilers, is how the author brushes away all the conventional themes of dealing with a grudge laden ex-con and leaves you gasping at his audacity. What's more it works on all levels and is an excellent read.
I was able to read an advanced copy of this book thanks to NetGalley and the publishers in exchange for an unbiased review and would recommend it to fans of this author and genre unreservedly.
4.0 out of 5 starsSO MUCH CONVINCES, BUT THEN ....
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 27, 2020
Ethical concerns here. Even after thirty years, how can Neville Rollason be released on parole, he who murdered all those boys? Vigilantes vow he will not last long. Meanwhile Rollason has his own secret agenda - carefully plotted all this time is devastating revenge on all who helped put him away....
Caught up in the middle are DCI Craig Gillard and his team. Actually at the moment this is not their prime concern, mystery surrounding a corpse dumped at night in the Thames. How came the body to be so crushed?
The powerful start grabs attention. Police procedural is convincingly portrayed - the slow but sure sifting of information received, all the while homing in on the possible truth.
Overall reaction depends on how much the reader can believe in motivations eventually attributed and events described in the closing chapters. After so much ringing true, there seemed a lurch into the surreal, sequences that did not really seem to belong.
Thought provoking, though, is the central issue. Are some crimes so heinous that perpetrators should never be released?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 11, 2020
When I first started this book I found it a tad slow, and the release of a prisoner of such heinous crimes, being relocated, paid benefits and everything else made my blood boil. I would have hung him and pulled the lever!!
However, as the story unfolds, there are lots of twists and turns, and as usual Nick has the reader captivated. I would never have worked out the ending in a month of Sunday’s! I do like this series and have read each and everyone. I did feel however that Craig took a bit of a back seat on this one and his wife was a bit better after her previous experiences.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 20, 2020
Having been a bit disappointed with previous Gillards (not just the story, but poor proofreading), this one started well and was a good yarn until about 90% through it started getting silly, and then sillier still. By the end, it was utterly stupid. Proofreading has improved since the last book, although Mr Louth presumably never did physics. A meter which measure voltage isn't a voltage meter, it's a voltmeter, and hysteresis isn't what's described on page 138. That description refers to elasticity. Owing to the ridiculous ending of the story, I will not be wasting money on further Gillards.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 23, 2020
I’ve now read all six books in the Gillard series and I can’t wait for the next instalment. The recurring characters in the series are utterly believable and have developed as the series has gone along. The plots are intricate but exciting at the same time. The books also bring out the amount of legwork and painstaking detail required when investigating a crime. Highly recommended.