Cleverly plotted and addictive, this gruesome thriller is a fantastic debut with a seriously creepy serial killer and a gripping story that will take you for a spin through London.
Ragdoll by Daniel Cole
Genres: Crime, Thriller
Published: 23rd February, 2017
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Series: Detective William Fawkes #1
William Fawkes, a controversial detective known as The Wolf, has just been reinstated to his post after months of psychological assessment following allegations of a shocking assault. A veteran of the force, Fawkes thinks he’s seen it all. That is, until his former partner and friend, Detective Emily Baxter, calls him to a crime scene and leads him to a career-defining cadaver: the dismembered parts of six victims sewn together like a puppet – a corpse that becomes known in the press as the “ragdoll.”
Fawkes is tasked with identifying the six victims, but that gets dicey when his reporter ex-wife anonymously receives photographs from the crime scene, along with a list of six names, and the dates on which the Ragdoll Killer plans to murder them. The final name on the list is Fawkes. Baxter and her trainee partner, Alex Edmunds, hone in on figuring out what links the victims together before the killer strikes again.
But for Fawkes, seeing his name on the list sparks a dark memory, and he fears that the catalyst for these killings has more to do with him – and his past – than anyone realises.
Ragdoll packs a great crew with William Oliver Leyton Fawkes, a.k.a Wolf, the snappy Emily Baxter, Finlay the Scotsman, and Edmunds, the newbie, whose first name seems to have eluded the whole team.
‘Oh, I’ve told them to let Emily and … and …’
‘Edmunds,’ whispered Wolf.
‘What’s his first name?’ Finlay hissed back.
Wolf shrugged: ‘Edmund?’
Together they not only work on solving the disturbing case of the random body parts sewn together into one body, but also deliver the greatest banters I’ve seen in crime fiction for a long time. The chemistry between Fawkes and Baxter leads to some charged scenes without being overdone, something I always appreciate.
The corpse-puppet presents a great puzzle (…ahem…) for a good half of the story, and then of course there’s the problem of the killer’s hit list – including Wolf’s name -, delivered directly to Andrea, a popular reporter, who also happens to be Wolf’s ex-wife. The media snatches up the story and basically deliver a live coverage of the incompetency of the police as, despite their best efforts, the announced victims start dropping like flies. The Death Clock is ticking, and the police runs into one dead end after the other. Newbie Edmunds is the only one with ideas and new angles, but nobody seems to take him seriously, since they can’t even remember his first name, therefore he can’t be right.
Oh, and the gore. Did I mention the gore galore? Our killer has some pretty creative ways of disposing of the victims. Other people also have a tendency to randomly bleed on things for various reasons, so this book is not for the squishies.
The final conclusion, while quite satisfying, will surely raise some eyebrows, and those of you with a desire to finish things off neatly might grumble. But the next book is already out, so we won’t be left hanging for long!
With great characters, witty humour, twists and turns Ragdoll is an adrenaline-fuelled page turner with an unexpected gut punch at the end.
P.S. Let’s take a look at some of the pretty covers from around the world. Although, I must say, the Germans must have missed the memo, because I have no idea what the bird has to do with anything…