Review: Taken for Dead by Graham Masterton

Friday 6 February 2015
Title: Taken for Dead (Katie Maguire, #4)
Author: Graham Masterton
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication Date: 12th February 2015
Pages: 384
ISBN: 9781781856802
Source: Unsolicited Review Copy
Rating: 3.5/5
Purchase: Amazon
It is a sunny Saturday in county Cork, and an Irish wedding is in full swing. Drunk uncles are toasting the bride. The Ceilidh band have played for hours. But the cutting of the cake will bring the wedding to a horrifying end. For there, grinning gruesomely up from the bottom tier, is the severed head of the local baker.

Katie Maguire, of the Irish Garda, does not have any leads - until another local businessman goes missing in horrific circumstances. The murders appear to link to The Kings of Erin, a terrifying gang of torturers and extortionists. But these are dangerous men. And they will stop at nothing to throw Katie off the trail...

I read and reviewed the third Katie Maguire book, Red Light, back in June 2014 and I loved it, so I was very excited to receive an unexpected parcel with Taken for Dead inside. I decided to read it as part of #IrishFictionFortnight. Straightaway from just the blurb (which I know we should always take with a pinch of salt) I had an idea I would like this book. I hadn't read a Masterton book before Red Light* but have since learnt that he is a very famous horror author, and that is evident in these crime novels he is now writing as he comes up with some absolutely brutal ways for his victims to be killed and I love it.

*He also writes 'adult' books, some I may have found when I was younger. I knew I recognised his name!

The book opens at an Irish wedding, from the opening pages you definitely get that Irish feel and it could almost be the start of a romance/general fiction novel until the couple start to cut the cake, and find a severed (and stinking) head inside. Katie Maguire is called in to investigate, at first with no clue as to who is responsible, and when another local businessman goes missing a link is found between the murders and The Kings of Erin, a terrifying gang of torturers and extortionists and Graham weaves a tale linking mythology and the present day almost effortlessly. This opening scene is actually quite tame, and as somebody that likes my crime fiction served (no pun intended) as gruesome as possible, I've definitely found that in Masterton's books. There's a real sense of place with these novels, I've never been to Cork yet I feel like I have, they are also very authentic, especially in the language used between the characters.

Despite only meeting Katie in one book and not knowing her complete history, she's a character that continues to intrigue me and there are some quite significant developments in her personal life in this novel, particularly towards the end when the book ends, rather frustratingly, on a bit of a cliffhanger. I can only hope that there's a fifth book planned! As a woman in a mans world, she can very much hold her own. This isn't solely a crime novel, and the added bits of gore and horror definitely set it apart from other books in its genre, but crime fans would be well advised to check this series out, it's (sorry for the cliches) both exciting and thrilling and original given how different it is. Taken for Dead therefore comes highly recommended by me though it did go on a little bit longer than it needed to.


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