Sunday 25 August 2019

One Man's Opinion: KING'S RANSOM by ED McBAIN

King's Ransom is an 87th Precinct novel where the focus is much more upon the criminals and victims than on the role of the police, which makes it slightly unusual in the series. 

A wealthy businessman is planning to rally against a hostile takeover through his own underhand scheming. While the machines of money and greed grind away, there's a kidnapping on his estate. 

Unfortunately for the kidnappers, the boy taken is not the heir to the shoe factory, but is his friend and son of the household chauffeur. 

The police take over the mansion and do what they can and there's a nail-chewing wait for contact to be made. 

Meanwhile, all is not well at the criminals' safe house. The two men involved were not expecting to have such a feisty child in their care, nor for the wife of one of them to be so against the plan. 

About half way through the read, there's a twist that changed my feelings towards the main characters entirely. It's a simple shift, yet when it came it threw me completely. The same can be said of the police involved. 

King's Ransom took me a while to settle into. It works through different gears than many a procedural, yet when it finds its cruising speed it's as exciting and tense as the best of them. 

Wednesday 21 August 2019


There are lots of questions surrounding the murder of an old communist killed during a post office raid. The victim appeared to know his killer and entrusted his grandson to a young man with shocking facial tattoos as if recognising there could only be one outcome to proceedings. 

As DS Morrow tries to piece together the elements of the crime, she realises that the dead man has a secret history that no one wishes to divulge. The further she gets into the investigation, the clearer it becomes that there’s a strong possibility of police corruption, something that can’t be denied when two officers decide to walk away with a huge bag of cash and split it between them. 

Alternating with the investigation are stories that follow the tattooed man from the post office and the woes and wriggles of a sleazy politician/folk hero who has been exposed for having an affair with a younger woman that he is desperately trying to deny. 

Much as I enjoyed the read, becoming increasingly absorbed towards the end, I struggled at times with the structure. The strands clearly overlap, but it’s not until the final scenes that they fully come together and allow the reader to make sense of it all. The conclusion is tight and satisfying, though I would have preferred more connection between the strands at an earlier stage. 

The characters, particularly the lead detective, are strong and each carries genuine motivations and frailties. Individual scenes are well put together and the police investigation picks up pace nicely. The political element tended to get in the way for me and, even though it is crucial to the plot, I would have preferred it to have been served in a different dish. 

Gods and Beasts is a pleasing holiday read and a book I was happy to leave behind for the next visitors to our temporary home to enjoy.