Review: Ruthless by Cath Staincliffe (4/5)

Monday 6 October 2014
A blaze at an abandoned chapel in impoverished Manorclough turns out to be more than just arson when the body of a man who has been shot twice is discovered in the ashes. For the Manchester Metropolitan police team it’s the start of a gruelling and complex case that exposes the fractures and fault lines of a community living on the edge.

DC Rachel Bailey, recently married, is trying to come to terms with her new status and deal with the fallout from her chaotic family. She throws herself into work but her compulsion to find answers and see justice done leads her into the deepest jeopardy.

DC Janet Scott's world is shaken to its foundations when death comes far too close for comfort and she finds one of her daughters on the wrong side of a police investigation.

DCI Gill Murray’s ex Dave, a Chief Superintendent, crashes back into her life, out of control and bringing chaos in his wake. Gill attempts to get Dave to face the truth of his situation, and to stay the hell away from her, but things are about to get a whole lot worse.

And then a second building goes up in flames...

I'm not usually a fan of TV tie-in books but as a massive fan of Scott & Bailey and given the fact Cath Staincliffe is a very talented writer I couldn't resist this series and think it's been fantastic so far. Book three especially was an enjoyable read and I'm loving reading more about Rachel, Janet and Gill outside of the TV show and being able to picture Suranne and Lesley in the role who are just fantastic actresses.

The book does read pretty much like a TV show but given the written format means we can get inside the head of the characters and understand them more, and better than 40 minutes on the TV could ever do. Cath has captured the characters brilliantly, often TV tie-ins fall flat because the author doesn't know the characters and is writing based off a synopsis but I don't feel that's the case here. Also Cath being such a good writer just makes this book so readable, if that's the right word to use. Once you start it's hard to stop reading so I had this finished in just a few sittings...

In terms of the plot to me it felt very real. In crime fiction you get the sort of stuff which can border on the unrealistic but what we have here is a very human, and realistic story that any of us living in the UK could wake up to one morning and read about in the news. For me that just adds authenticity to the book and makes it feel more real. Rachel is on her way home when she witnesses a fire at an abandoned chapel, on first glance it appears to just be arson but when a body of a man who was shot twice is found inside a whole can of worms is opened. Then a second building goes up in flames...

One of my favourite authors is Lynda La Plante who I especially like because she writes your proper police procedural. Where we follow the police in the incident room, doing the small things from paperwork to the then bigger things such as putting their life on the line to capture a killer. The same is true with this book, there's a real sense of camaraderie at times amongst the police yet animosity at others.

Also the characterisation is as good as the TV show. Both Rachel and Janet aren't perfect by any means they both have their flaws and are dealing with personal issues in their own lives which is explored further in the book. Again this makes the book more believable because they aren't portrayed as those Supercops who can solve every crime and be home in time to tuck their kids in, they make mistakes, they struggle but ultimately are good at their jobs.

This book serves very well as a companion to the TV show and fans should definitely pick it up yet at the same time it can be read as a standalone or by those that have yet to discover the brilliance of Scott & Bailey, one of the best crime duos on one of the best UK crime shows of recent years. Definitely not one to miss!

Thanks to the Transworld for the NetGalley review copy.

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