Hall of Fame Review: The Dying Place by Luca Veste (5/5)

Thursday 23 October 2014
Once inside…there’s no way out

A fate worse than death…

DI Murphy and DS Rossi discover the body of known troublemaker Dean Hughes, dumped on the steps of St Mary’s Church in West Derby, Liverpool. His body is covered with the unmistakable marks of torture.

As they hunt for the killer, they discover a worrying pattern. Other teenagers, all young delinquents, have been disappearing without a trace.

Who is clearing the streets of Liverpool?

Where are the other missing boys being held?

And can Murphy and Rossi find them before they meet the same fate as Dean?

Take note of the name Luca Veste, as he is going to be massive in crime fiction if his first two books are anything to go by. Reading his biography he almost fell into writing yet reading Dead Gone and The Dying Place, he is a born storyteller. With a move to Simon & Schuster imminent, I'm very excited about future books from Luca. Liverpool is a city with so much potential for a crime fiction novel, you only have to read the Liverpool Echo or walk around the city to see that, so I'm constantly disappointed to never find any decent crime fiction set in the city. Luca appears to be writing the books I wish I could write myself, and that as a crime fiction reader from Liverpool, the books I've waited years to be written.

The book opens with a very hard hitting, emotional and realistic Prologue of a single mother who's child has gone missing. Nobody cares. The mum is on benefits, the son a troublemaker. Probably turn up after a few days. When he turns up dead however, his mutilated and tortured body dumped on the steps of a West Derby church, it's a whole other story. We go back in time to discover how her son ended up dead. A gang of men kidnap another boy, Goldie, and take him out to a Farm, dumping him into the 'Dorm' where he meets Dean. Subjecting the boys to torture, and trying to 'fix' them it is almost like a modern day National Service and the idea is quite horrifying because it feels all too real, like it could actually happen. I had an idea of where the book would go, yet I couldn't have been more wrong. Luca took the book down a completely different path and I didn't see it coming.

When the body of the first boy is found the attitude of one of the officers is quite shocking, yet scarily probably not that far from the truth. DI Murphy however, growing up on an estate himself and very nearly choosing the wrong path in life, knows all too well how easy it is to end up in that life and actually, seeing the boys locked up we see a different side to them ourselves and your emotions are torn over whether they deserve what is happening to them, or whether we should feel sorry for them. Not everything can be blamed on their upbringing and where they live, but there is a vulnerability to them that shows they aren't the men they think they are. With not all the kidnappers being 100% committed to the cause it isn't long until things get very interesting. I was gobsmacked at some of the developments in the book. I guess I felt more an emotional impact as this was all happening in the city I was born and live in. It was almost frightening at times imagining some of these scenes playing out not too far from where I live.

I could talk about the story all day but it would of course ruin the reading experience. Despite this only being Luca's second book he has written something completely different to Dead Gone, it is refreshing and makes a change from a similar story just written differently by other crime authors. An author that can change the story each book rather than relying on more of the same is very exciting for me, and I can't wait for book three to see what Luca does next. With only a vague idea of who is behind the killings and why (for the most part) it makes for a very gripping read, one chapter ends and you just have to read the next ten. With some jaw dropping developments halfway through, this is a book you'll be reading long into the night. It's bloody, gritty and in places extremely gruesome which is just how I like my crime fiction. I hope the gore level is turned up to the max with book three.

The book feels very authentic, written by somebody with a love for the city, and a knowledge of its areas and not just the city centre. As Luca says in his author Q&A and guest post here, Liverpool is a city of disparity. Walking around it at times you could almost be in another city the differences are that big. Luca clearly has a vested (no pun intended) interest in discussing these aspects of life in the city and that really comes across here, making the book infinitely more enjoyable than if it was written by someone who didn't share those interests. He has captured the setting really well, using his knowledge of the area to create believable, realistic characters. Perhaps my love for Liverpool has me biased, I love recognising the areas he is talking about but I firmly believe it is an excellent city to base a book, and so enjoyment will be found by all crime fiction fans.

Murphy and Rossi, our main characters are now some of my favourites in crime fiction. I just love them as a duo. There's a lot of cynicism and humour throughout the book which lightens the mood, and I love their scenes together. Using his Italian heritage Luca has created a character in Rossi that feels genuine and real, and the same with Murphy. Unique and interesting detectives in crime fiction are what I want, and I got that here. In the background Murphy's relationship with Sarah develops, and not always in a good way. The same is true of his best friend Jess. Admittedly I saw the story regarding Jess coming a mile away, yet it still shocked me and left me speechless. A certain development in this book had me on the edge of my seat, about to abandon the book and shout at Luca via Twitter, luckily I didn't need to but I was scared for a while.

This book was over long before I wanted it to. I want the next book from Luca right now! As I said at the start, his is a name you will be hearing a lot of over the coming years as he climbs the ranks to sit alongside the likes of Mark Billingham and Stuart MacBride. This book is fantastic and not to be missed, and if you did somehow miss Dead Gone, then go and get that too!

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy. 

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