Review: The Death Collector by Neil White (5/5)

Monday 9 June 2014

Joe Parker is Manchester's top criminal defence lawyer and Sam Parker - his brother - is a brilliant detective with the Greater Manchester Police force. Together they must solve a puzzling case that is chilling Manchester to the bone...

Danger sometimes comes in the most unexpected guises. The Death Collector is charming, sophisticated and intelligent, but he likes to dominate women, to make them give themselves to him completely; to surrender their dignity and their lives. He's a collector of beautiful things, so once he traps them he'll never let them go.

Joe is drawn into the Death Collector's world when he becomes involved in a supposed miscarriage of justice, and when the case becomes dangerous, Sam is the first person he turns to. In this gripping thriller, danger lurks for not only the Parker brothers, but also those closest to them.

As a huge fan of Neil White's brilliant DC Laura McGanity I have shockingly not yet got round to reading Next to Die, the first book in the Parker brothers series. This is book two and after reading it I'd say it can be read as a standalone, it does give away bits of the first book but not too much that you couldn't still enjoy reading it.

I really enjoyed this book. Opening with a supposed Peeping Tom being arrested, lawyer Joe Hunter is called to the police station. The person arrested is a teenager by the name of Carl Jex who tells Joe he has information regarding an innocent man, Aidan Molloy, who was jailed for a murder he didn't commit. Promising to meet with Joe the following day, Carl goes missing overnight. Carl's dad went missing months earlier so Carl's mother calls Joe for help. We also follow chapters from the POV of the Death Collector. Neil's writing in these scenes was really atmospheric and descriptive.

Joe's brother Sam is a police detective called to a body that has been dumped on the moors. His boss DCI Hunter is basically going against all protocol and seemingly messing up the investigation purposely. Can't really say any more except Sam is highly suspicious at this veteran detectives nonchalant approach to the case and sets off to investigate by himself. Making a discovery of his own he eventually learns that his case is linked with Joe's and it's up to the two to work together to uncover the truth.

Both characters I really liked but it was probably Joe I liked more. At first he appeared a bit disillusioned with his job, and was trying to find the truth about Aidan Molloy to save his own neck but along the way he became embroiled in the case to the extent that he actually wanted to help Aidan. I found myself believing Aidan and really sympathising with his mother. The book is a bit of a slow burner but once the story gets going it really is gripping and you will struggle to put this book down. Right up until the last chapters I was still guessing how everything would unravel and nearly giving myself a paper cut turning the pages as fast as possible. All through the book various characters have secrets but you just can't guess what they are.

The characterisation is top notch. Joe and Sam are both very different characters but share some of the same characteristics. The murder of their sister years earlier drew them to the careers they have and has made them the men they are today, it's almost ingrained in them to help others to make up for not preventing their sister's death. Joe is single but Sam faces the predictable marriage troubles that plague most detectives who often put the cases they are working on before their loved ones.

Ultimately what you have here is a very realistic and believable tale. It's almost like something you wake up and read about in the morning papers or watch on the evening news. I could see this working as a TV series really well for that reason. There's nothing unbelievable about it like with some crime novels where the author has to use artistic license to make their stories that bit better. Neil has just stuck with brilliant characters, very human characters that you can relate to, sympathise with and in the case of the bad guys, really hate them alongside a gripping story with a million puzzle pieces just waiting for you to put back together. I highly recommend this book. I will definitely be looking to get my hands on Next to Die ASAP!

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