Review: Taunting the Dead by Mel Sherratt

Friday 9 January 2015
Title: Taunting the Dead
Author: Mel Sherratt
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: 3rd December 2013
Pages: 385
Source: Received from author
Rating: 4/5
Purchase: Amazon
Nine out of ten murders are committed by someone the victim knows. So when Steph Ryder has her head bashed in within earshot of her family and friends, D.S. Allie Shenton begins her investigation close to home.

Soon the lies, backtracking, and secrets multiply as each of the suspects tries to cover up their actions on that fateful night. Before long, Allie homes in on Steph’s ambitious and powerful husband, Terry. Convinced he’s hiding something, she interviews him again and again—only to find that she is falling, despite herself, for his smooth charms.

As the trail grows hotter, along with Allie’s feelings, the web of deceit pulls tighter and more bodies begin to pile up. Allie must race against time to uncover the shocking truth before she becomes the killer’s next victim.

The book opens with the murder of Steph Ryder, with the next chapter taking us back a week to a time when Steph was blissfully unaware that people close to her were plotting her demise. Steph herself isn't a particularly likeable character, and along the way we are introduced to a number of people, all of whom could have their reasons for wanting her dead. Some have reasons which are more believable than others, for example her husband Terry, her lover Phil, her lover's son Lee and her daughter Kirstie who she has somewhat of a fractured relationship with. There's a couple of secondary characters involved, but I found their involvement to be a little contrived in the beginning.

I have to say that I did find the book a little bit slow in the beginning, there were times I found the descriptions of some things to be unnecessary or a bit lengthy but at the same time wondered if there were clues in there somewhere... I'm a reader that just wants to get straight into the action, and I was a little bit impatient for it to start here. I'd say that's probably because we know Steph is going to die, and it wasn't until we reached that point (again) in the book that it became exciting and I got caught up in the case along with DS Allie Shenton, finding it very hard to put the book down.

Once the investigation kicks off the story really gets going, Mel writes in a way that left me confused one minute, and convinced I knew who killed Steph the next. Even when I thought I was right, I was slapped in the face with a brilliant twist. I did feel a little bit of dread when I read the blurb and it mentioned that Allie might fall for the charms of Terry. I'm not a fan of police officers who fall for criminals, and hoped that wouldn't be the case here. I didn't feel it added anything to the story and found at times it felt a little forced. Allie is otherwise a very interesting character and there's a thread in the book concerning her personal life that's going to be continued in the next book and with a fantastic cliffhanger at the end of this one, readers will be left wanting more.

It is described as a police procedural but I'd say it's a combination of a couple of different genres. Mel describes it as grit-lit, which I think describes it well enough. You can see why her books are compared to the likes of Martina Cole and that she takes her inspiration from authors such as Lynda La Plante. There is a gritty realism to her books, and she paints a believable picture of Stoke-on-Trent using it as the backdrop to the story along with some wry observations about the city. Certain parts of the story might not be to everybody's taste but overall it's a solid read, and a very good start to a series. Book two, Follow the Leader sounds incredibly exciting and with the events in this book regarding Allie's personal life being explored further, it sounds like it's going to be an action packed read and I can certainly see Mel becoming one of my favourite authors as I read more from her, she's got one hell of an imagination and uses it to full effect.

I have also reviewed another of Mel's books, Watching Over You here and should hopefully have a review for Follow the Leader publication week. 


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