Review: The Murder Bag by Tony Parsons (4/5)

Wednesday 7 May 2014
The gripping first novel in an explosive new crime series by Tony Parsons, bestselling author of Man and Boy. If you like crime-novels by Ian Rankin and Peter James, you will love this.

Twenty years ago seven rich, privileged students became friends at their exclusive private school, Potter’s Field. Now they have started dying in the most violent way imaginable.

Detective Max Wolfe has recently arrived in the Homicide division of London’s West End Central, 27 Savile Row.

Soon he is following the bloody trail from the backstreets and bright lights of the city, to the darkest corners of the internet and all the way to the corridors of power.

As the bodies pile up, Max finds the killer’s reach getting closer to everything - and everyone - he loves.

Soon he is fighting not only for justice, but for his own life ...

Say hello to London's newest detective, Max Wolfe.

A lot of my favourite crime fiction is set in London, and so whenever there's a new book with a new detective I am both excited and apprehensive about reading it. Excited because it's London and apprehensive because it might be bad (there is probably as many bad crime fiction books set in London as there is good). Luckily for me this was one of the good ones, well not good it was excellent! I've never read a Tony Parsons book before but after this one I will definitely be seeking one or two of them out in the near future. I know they are very different to THE MURDER BAG but Tony is a fantastic writer if this book is anything to go by.

The book opens with a prologue where we learn that a girl has just been attacked by a gang of men. She then attacks one of them by literally gouging his eye out with her fingers. After appearing to escape from the men they eventually catch up to her in a car and capture her and then kill her. We then move forward in time where we are introduced to Max Wolfe. Now this was a very different introduction to a character than most books as we follow Max and his colleagues as they try and apprehend a suspected terrorist. What Max actually does to capture this person says a lot about the sort of policeman and man that he is (in a good way). 

Moving on again and we see Wolfe attending the murder scene of a banker who has had his throat literally sliced open very methodically. The police speculate that this could only be the work of an expert (a doctor, ex-army etc). Before they can even draw breath another body is found this time of a homeless person. You wouldn't expect a connection between a rich banker and a homeless man except for the fact that the word PIG has been drawn on the wall of both crime scenes in blood. And a picture found in the banker's office of 7 friends is also found at the parental home of the dead homeless man. This is where the story kicks off and Wolfe attempts to find out who the rest of these men are and who seemingly wants them dead. 

I must say that despite the reasoning behind these killings being quite obvious, it was an enjoyable read following the police as they tried to hunt down the killer, nicknamed Bob the Butcher by the press. Also not everything is the way it seems and so there were a few shocks and surprises along the way, especially towards the end of the book. I also loved the mention of the Black Museum, somewhere I wish was open to the public as I would absolutely love to go to it (for those who don't know about it, Google!) The Murder Bag title at first confused me as to what it could refer to, but all became clear in the book!

Max Wolfe as a character was very interesting too. We learn early on that he's a single father to a young girl, Scout and they have a dog called Stan who gets up to all sorts of mischief in the book. There's a mention of a wife where Wolfe says we 'lost' her which could mean one of two things and it becomes clear later in the book which one that is. I enjoyed reading about his home life and look forward to reading more about him in the future. In a crowded field like crime fiction it's hard to create a character that feels different and stands out from the rest but Wolfe definitely did.

Overall I can highly reccommend this book to crime fiction fans. It's something a bit different to what's out there at the minute and Tony has definitely created a character that I am itching to read more about. Book two cannot come quick enough...

Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy.

THE MURDER BAG will be released on May 8th and you can buy it from Amazon

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