Review: Strangers by Paul Finch

Friday 23 September 2016
Title: Strangers
Author: Paul Finch
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 22nd September 2016
Pages: 416
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Unknown, alone, and fearing for your life.

As PC Lucy Clayburn is about to find out, going undercover is the most dangerous work there is.

But, on the trail of a prolific female serial killer, there’s no other option – and these murders are as brutal as they come.

Lucy must step into the line of fire – a stranger in a criminal underworld that butchers anyone who crosses the line.

And, unknown to Lucy, she’s already treading it…

It seems like ages since we last had a book from Paul Finch and so I have eagerly been counting down the days until I could get my hands on Strangers (which doesn't feature the brilliant DS Heckenburg but a new character in PC Lucy Clayburn) especially after some creepy marketing material arrived shortly before my finished copy of the book. I am always nervous when one of my favourite authors moves away from their regular character but in this case it has worked brilliantly for Paul and Lucy is a character I want to meet again in the future.

I initially thought that a book featuring a PC rather than a detective might be a bit of a slower read or not be as interesting but how wrong was I after just a couple of pages. Lucy has the impulsiveness and tenacity to be a great detective, and this is something she sees herself being in the future. However that impulsiveness, and at times naivety, will (and does) work against her as she finds out not all that far into the story. Lucy is a brilliant character and I was actually reminded of when I read Lynda La Plante's Tennison last year which featured a younger Jane Tennison. Lucy is very much her own character but with the potential to be a really great one like Tennison. I love reading about strong female characters and this is probably thanks to Jackie Collins and her Lucky Santangelo series. Some of my favourite crime fiction in recent years has a female character at the lead and I think it's because your typical male detective has just been overdone.

The Heck novels are especially dark reads with humour laced throughout and I love my crime fiction as dark as possible and I hoped this would continue with this new series. Lucy finds herself sent undercover on the hunt of a prolific female serial killer. It's hard to say anything more than that except I particularly liked the fact that we had a female serial killer. I've only ever read crime fiction books set in the US which feature a female serial killer and so this was a new dynamic to me and helped set the book apart from others in the genre. Having studied psychology at A Level and university I am always eager to get into the minds of such characters and to find out what could possibly drive them to kill. It's certainly fair to say (although it shouldn't be) that a female killer is a lot more shocking than reading about male killers which is sadly an everyday occurrence. Paul's writing is descriptive and immersive and incredibly detailed and this has always been something I have enjoyed most about his books. You feel and live each moment you are reading, and it's a powerful read when you start caring about the fictional characters you are reading about and they suddenly find themselves in danger.

A standout feature of Paul's books is setting. This time around it's gritty, scary and incredibly believable and, in part at least, takes place along a stretch of road I know all too well. It's easy to picture everything you are reading quite vividly which is a little unsettling. I'm not too sure what else I can say without stepping into spoiler territory but this is a book that every crime fan needs to read. Paul Finch is an author I am constantly recommending as I know I can tell someone to read his books with great certainty that they will enjoy them if they do. He is in an incredible writer with a real talent and his books are some of the best out there. I just hope that the wait for more (whether featuring Heck, Lucy, or both?!) isn't too far away as I am already impatient for more. If Amazon is correct then the next book from Paul will be another Heck novel on my birthday in 2017!

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