Review: Sacrifice by Paul Finch (5/5)

Wednesday 7 May 2014

A vicious serial killer is holding the country to ransom, publicly - and gruesomely - murdering his victims.

When a man is burnt alive on a bonfire, it seems like a tragic Guy Fawkes Night accident. But with the discovery of a young couple on Valentine’s Day – each with an arrow through the heart – something more sinister becomes clear. A ‘calendar killer’ is on the loose.

Detective Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg is up against it. With a rising body count and the public’s eyes on him, Heck must find the killer before he executes more victims.

Because this killer has a plan. And nothing will stop him completing it.

A heart-stopping and grisly thriller that will enthral fans of Stuart MacBride and Katia Lief.

Last year I read Paul Finch's Stalkers and absolutely loved it. I finished it with that happy feeling of having discovered a brilliant new talent in the crime genre. I got Sacrifice from the library on release but didn't get to round to actually reading it so when I received a review copy of The Killing Club (out May 22nd) I immediately got hold of Sacrifice to read beforehand. I have been reading it on and off over the last few days and it was an amazing read. Paul can definitely tell a story and hold a reader, I was reading this long into the night.

The book opens with two Leeds police officers being called to an abandoned warehouse on Christmas morning where they are told they will find something 'interesting'. What they find is a dead old man done up like Santa Clause and left to die inside a chimney. We then follow Heck chasing after two suspects he believes to be the M1 Maniac(s). Well, he kind of apprehends the two suspects but the aftermath of what happens leads the public to lose all confidence in the Serial Crime Unit. So, when more killings take place and the police are led to assume a calendar killer is at work, Heck's boss and ex-lover Gemma Piper believes it's time for the squad to restore public confidence and apprehend the killer as quickly as possible. Except it's Heck's belief that they are looking for more than one person. And so the hunt begins...

Paul is a fantastic writer and you just lose yourself in the book. It's quite a long book but unlike some crime books it doesn't feel long and it never felt like a chore to read. I absolutely love the character of Heck. I love policemen who go off the rails and break all the rules etc but what we have here is a policeman doing his job as he feels it's his calling. He has a book full of photos of all the victims he attempts to find justice for, as a reminder of why he does the job he does. That's not to say he doesn't break the rules occasionally he definitely does but it's more in a believable and realistic way. I love the character of Heck. There is serious chemistry between him and Gemma and I love reading about the two of them.

Paul doesn't hold back with the graphicness of some of the scenes either. I particularly liked the scene where two young lovers drive to their usual spot only to be creeped out by some strange goings on. This part of the book felt almost like the start of a horror movie! It was very atmospheric and I was alone in the house at the time so was a bit wary reading it! I love crime fiction like this though, the more gruesome the better. Paul's writing reminds me a little of Chris Carter who is one of my favourite crime authors, and another author who isn't afraid to write at the more gruesome end of the spectrum.

I definitely got caught up in wondering who the killer was, and why they were killing at specific times of the year. Bonfire Night, Christmas, Valentine's, Easter.. The police are left wondering when the next murder will be but there's just too many dates for them to choose from. The last few chapters especially were particularly gripping and I couldn't read quick enough trying to find out how it would all end. Overall I'd say this book is even better than Stalkers and I'm going to be starting The Killing Club ASAP. Paul's books feel very authentic and this is no surprise given his background in police work and television work. There is also a wonderful Acknowledgement at the end to his father which was very touching. An absolutely fantastic read which puts Paul Finch in my top five crime authors. I think his books would work really well on TV. I'm not sure there's many crime fiction fans who haven't heard of Paul Finch but for those that haven't I urge you to read his books ASAP.


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