With a gruesome stitched-together corpse, many readers will probably expect Daniel Cole's Ragdoll to be filled to overflowing with gore. Surprisingly, it isn't. What it does have is a breakneck pace, a wonderfully convoluted plot, and an intense cast of characters. For a character-driven reader like myself, Cole's cast is what made the book. No, I couldn't solve the mystery ahead of time-- which is always a plus-- but the characters are what wouldn't let me go.
The trainee Edmunds is brilliant at wading through mountains of information and digging up the facts that they need to solve the crime. In addition, he may be new in position, but he has the intestinal fortitude to stand up to his superiors when he feels that he is in the right. The entire team may be saddled with a pencil-pushing, media-hungry, wardrobe nightmare of a boss, but the detectives' immediate supervisor, Simmons, is a good man who gets right in the thick of the investigation with them and buckles down to do some of the grunt work. How often does that happen?
Emily Baxter has a terrible temper, is an even worse driver, and secretly pines for Fawkes, who knows her flaws and has been known to cover for her when necessary. Fawkes himself goes spectacularly off the rails, and this makes him very unpredictable. With these two main characters, readers are never quite sure what's going to happen.
Although the ending of Ragdoll unraveled a bit, I really enjoyed the story and the characters, and I'm looking forward to reading the next book, Hangman, which will be out at the end of July.