#BookReview Gallowstree Lane (Collins and Griffiths #3) by Kate London @CorvusBooks

Gallowstree LaneAbout the Book

Please don’t let me die. Please don’t. The final words of teenager Spencer Cardoso as he bleeds out on a London street, his life cut short in a single moment of rage.

Detective Inspector Kieran Shaw’s not interested in the infantry. Shaw likes the proper criminals, the ones who can plan things.  For two years he’s been painstakingly building evidence against an organized network, the Eardsley Bluds. Operation Perseus is about to make its arrests.

So when a low-level Bluds member is stabbed to death on Gallowstree Lane, Shaw’s priority is to protect his operation. An investigation into one of London’s tit-for-tat killings can’t be allowed to derail Perseus and let the master criminals go free.

But there’s a witness to the murder, fifteen-year-old Ryan Kennedy. Already caught up in Perseus and with the Bluds, Ryan’s got his own demons and his own ideas about what’s important. As loyalties collide and priorities clash, a chain of events is triggered that draws in Shaw’s old adversary DI Sarah Collins and threatens everyone with a connection to Gallowstree Lane…

Format: Hardcover (368 pages)         Publisher: Corvus
Publication date: 7th February 2019 Genre: Crime

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My Review

I haven’t read either of the previous two books in the series – Post Mortem and Death Message – but Gallowstree Lane worked perfectly well as a standalone, although when I get the chance I’d like to go back and read the first two.

Given the series title, I assumed (Sarah) Collins and (Lizzie) Griffiths were a team but in fact it turns out their paths have crossed only briefly in the course of previous cases. However, through different routes they find themselves both involved in finding the murderer of Spencer Cardoso: Sarah as Senior Investigating Officer on the case and Lizzie through the arrest of Spencer’s friend, Ryan, for a seemingly unrelated crime. The trail leads to a gang leader who is the subject of a major organized crime investigation led by Detective Inspector Kieran Shaw.

The book provides a vivid picture of gang culture and how young men, often from deprived backgrounds, can be drawn into drugs, petty crime and violence by manipulative individuals, with often tragic outcomes. Sadly, the latter can just become one more statistic, or a brief mention in a newspaper. As Sarah observes, ‘The specifics of the dead boys did not generally capture the public’s imagination. These were, in the main one-act dramas and not very good ones either; no complication, no twist to make them interesting, no learning for the persons involved.’ In some respects, Detective Inspector Shaw shares this view but only because he is single-mindedly focused on the major operation he is running. ‘His business was to catch the proper bad guys.’

I think it shows the skill of the author to make Ryan, the witness to the murder of his friend, in any way a sympathetic character. He’s a young man traumatised by what he saw and plagued with guilt for running away.  He finds himself in a situation he can’t control and is pitifully loyal to those who view him in reality as no more than a useful tool in their criminal enterprises.

The book contains meticulous detail about police procedure, no doubt gleaned from the author’s time in the Metropolitan Police Service: the extensive paperwork, the often repetitive tasks, the painstaking attention to detail, the frustration when progress is slow, the black humour, and the adrenaline rush of the sudden breakthrough when ‘the trance of assessment and action that every police officer learns’ takes over. I liked the way the book shows the impact of the role on officers’ personal lives, whether that’s the long shifts, the unsocial hours or the traumatic scenes that linger long in the memory. And, as the story progresses we see just how much of a multi-disciplinary effort an investigation can be and what impact the use of modern technology can make (although it may make you more on the look out for CCTV cameras as you stroll down your local street).

I thought Gallowstree Lane was a cracking police procedural. It kept me hooked until the final pages and I’m only sorry it’s taken me so long to get around to reading it.

My thanks to Corvus for my review copy via Readers First. Gallowstree Lane is the final book in my 20 Books of Summer 2021. Phew, made it!

In three words: Gritty, compelling, authentic

Try something similar: Payback (DI Charley Mann #1) by R.C. Bridgestock

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Kate London 1 credit Tim FlachAbout the Author

Kate joined the Metropolitan Police Service in 2006. She finished her career working as part of a Major Investigation Team on the Metropolitan Police Service’s Homicide Command. She now writes full time. (Photo credit: Publisher author page)

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