Killing The Beasts by Chris Simms

Killing The BeastsManchester, 2002, in the wake of the Commonwealth Games. DI Jon Spicer has finally been handed his first chance as lead investigator on a murder investigation, but it’s a strange one. A young woman is found dead in her house, suffocated by a white material poured into her throat. A second victim quickly follows, but she has absolutely nothing in common with the first.

Meanwhile – actually, a few months earlier, Jon’s friends Tom is promoted to run his agency’s advertising campaigns during the Games. But as the pressures mount on Tom and things start to get out of control, he could never expect where his life is heading…

OK, a word of explanation. I’ve been asked to review a short story collection put together by The Murder Squad – six authors, Martin Edwards, Kate Ellis, Ann Cleeves, Cath Staincliffe, Margaret Murphy and Chris Simms. As I was also invited to the book launch, it seemed only polite to review something from each of the authors. I’ve already reviewed Desperate Measures by Cath Staincliffe, so expect in the next month the last unread Harry Devlin book by Martin & the third Joe Plantagenate book from Kate (in case you thought I’d run out of material there) and I’ll be meeting Vera Stanhope for the first time. I’ve got Everybody Lies by A D Garrett (i.e Margaret Murphy and Dave Barclay combined) ready to go on the Kindle – that’s five out of six – and so we come to this one.

And I have to say, this really isn’t my cup of tea at all. It’s a relatively short read, but it’s not really a mystery. There’s sort of two candidates for the killer, but as the book progresses, there isn’t much of a surprise in the tale. But there’s not supposed to be – it’s not that sort of book.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing – I’ve read plenty of non-mystery crime novels and even enjoyed some of them 🙂 – but the problem here for me was that I had no sympathy for the character of Tom. As I thought he was basically a massive arsehole, I felt that he deserved everything he got – well, not everything, no-one deserves everything that Tom gets – but without the necessary empathy on my part, the inherent tragedy of the tale fell pretty flat for me. And the chewing gum thing was just weird…

So, if you like grim character pieces, then you might well like this. But it was too far outside my comfort zone for me. But it’s got 3.5/5 on Goodreads and 4.5/5 on Amazon, so I’m guessing I’m not the target audience. Why not give it a try?


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