#BookReview The Boy Who Saw by Simon Toyne

TheBoyWhoSawAbout the Book

Who is Solomon Creed? A dangerous psychiatric patient, who has escaped from a high-security facility in America, or an innocent amnesiac trying to establish his true identity?

His search for the truth about himself takes Solomon to the beautiful southern French town of Cordes. But his arrival coincides with the brutal murder of an elderly French tailor, the words ‘Finishing what was begun’ daubed in blood on the walls.

Instinctively, Solomon knows he must help the tailor’s granddaughter and great grandson escape, and together they go on the run. Their flight, though, will set in motion a terrible sequence of events, leading to the exposure of a far-reaching conspiracy with its origins in the Holocaust but with terrible consequences for modern-day Europe. And what will it mean for Solomon himself?

Format: Hardback (544 pages)     Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication date: 15th June 2017 Genre: Thriller

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My Review

As if the 20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge weren’t difficult enough, I decided to make it even harder for myself by constructing my list from the twenty oldest unread paperbacks on my bookshelves. And vowing to read them in date order. Yes, I know. I also decided to adopt a ruthless approach: if a book isn’t working for me, I’ll set it aside, put it in the pile for the charity shop and pick up the next one. The Boy Who Saw is the second book from my list and at no point did I think about setting it aside.

I absolutely loved the author’s Sanctus trilogy (comprising Sanctus, The Key and The Tower) and felt the same about the book that first introduced the enigmatic Solomon Creed to the world, The Searcher, when I read it back in 2016. Since I described The Searcher as ‘a cracking thriller’, I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to read this follow-up apart from the fact it’s quite a chunky read.  However, the number of pages are quickly forgotten because of the pace with which the story unfolds, the complex and intriguing plot and the author’s trademark teasing chapter endings.

The plot moves between the present day and the period of the Second World War. The events of the latter are revealed bit by bit through excerpts from two memoirs. They describe the horrific treatment of Jewish people by the Nazis and by one individual in particular, described as the Devil in human form for whom ‘Death was his to command’.  It would be nice to think that some of the events described came purely from the author’s imagination but I fear not.

Although the origins of the murders may stretch back decades, events in the present day encompass plenty of contemporary themes: far right extremism, anti-immigrant prejudice and political corruption. And it wouldn’t be a top-notch thriller without a race against time, a breathless pursuit, some full-on action, characters who aren’t what they profess to be and some really bad guys equipped with the latest technology. As the officer in charge of the murder investigation, Commandant Benoît Armand, ruefully observes, ‘Law enforcement in its current state was like a Band Aid on an arterial wound’. However, the arrival on the scene of Solomon Creed with his unique abilities tips the scales back in favour of the good guys – and then some.

I’m not even going to attempt to summarise the twists and turns of the plot, so you’ll just have to trust me that it will keep you guessing right to the end and probably, like me, frantically turning the pages.  I’m not afraid to confess I suspected just about every character of being involved in the killings and was wrong every time.

The author continues to tease the reader with the truth about Solomon Creed’s identity right up to the end of the book, leaving it perfectly set up for a third book – at least I hope so.

In three words: Gripping, suspenseful, assured

Try something similarI Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

Simon ToyneAbout the Author

Simon Toyne is the international bestselling author of Dark Objects, the Sanctus trilogy and the Solomon Creed series. He wrote Sanctus after quitting his job as a TV executive and it became the biggest selling debut thriller of 2011 in the UK. His books have been translated into 29 languages and published in over 50 countries.

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#BookReview The Death of Remembrance (DCI Daley 10) by Denzil Meyrick

The Death of RemembranceAbout the Book

It’s 1983, and a beat constable walks away from a bar where he knows a crime is about to be committed. In the present, an old fisherman is found dead by the shoreline and a stranger with a mission moves into a shabby Kinloch flat.

Meanwhile, DCI Jim Daley is trying to help Brian Scott stay sober, and the good people of Kinloch are still mourning the death of one of their own. As past and present collide, Daley finds himself face to face with old friends and foes. Memories can only last as long as those who keep them, and ghosts will not be silenced.

Format: Paperback (400 pages)   Publisher: Polygon
Publication date: 2nd June 2022 Genre: Crime, Thriller

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My Review

The publication of The Death of Remembrance marks a triple celebration: ten years since DCI Daley made his first appearance (in Whisky from Small Glasses), reaching the milestone of one million copies of the series sold worldwide, and the news that DCI Daley will be coming to the TV screen in a drama series starring Game of Thrones actor, Rory McCann.

The Death of Remembrance is the tenth in the DCI Daley series and although I haven’t read any of the previous books, it turned out to be a perfect introduction to DCI Daley and his right-hand man, DS Brian Scott, as the book delves into their past alongside a contemporary storyline.  There are also brief references to events in previous books.

Daley and Scott have a close but occasionally turbulent relationship. They are both ‘old school’ detectives. At one point Scott remarks to Daley, ‘Face it. Me and you – we’re relics’. And both have struggled with alcohol problems. Scott still is struggling, much to the exasperation of his wife, Ella, and to Daley who is running out of options for saving Brian from the consequences of his actions, actions which may threaten his career. Daley’s problems are closer to home. His marriage to Liz is under strain, the demands of his job means he spends too little time with his family and his lifestyle – long hours and junk food – is taking a toll on his health.  The depth of characterisation is part of what made The Death of Remembrance such a compelling read for me. I also absolutely loved Hamish, the old fisherman whose instincts shouldn’t be ignored.

Other characters were equally memorable but definitely not in a good way. The sections of the book set in 1980s Glasgow transport the reader into a murky world of violence, intimidation, corruption and cruelty. We learn that the actions of the past cast a long shadow and a settling of scores is inevitable. As one character remarks, ‘The accounts must be reconciled, the books balanced’. There are some gripping and dramatic scenes towards the end of the book.

The partnership between Daley and Scott is in the tradition of great detective duos. I loved the moments of humour that acted as flashes of light amidst the darker aspects of the book. The humour is chiefly provided by Brian. The references to films and books that go over his head, and his frequent malapropisms made me chuckle. For example, when Daley reflects that although Brian is often trouble they have different strengths, Brian replies, ‘It’s that Jim and Jan thing’.

The Death of Remembrance has all the ingredients needed for a great crime thriller: a skilfully crafted plot, an authentic sense of place, moments of drama and compelling characters. I may be late to the party, but DCI Daley has acquired a new fan.

My thanks to Yasmine at Birlinn for my review copy.

In three words: Gripping, immersive, authentic

Try something similar: Poetic Justice by R.C. Bridgestock

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Denzil MeyrickAbout the Author

Denzil Meyrick was born in Glasgow and brought up in Campbeltown. After studying politics, he pursued a varied career including time spent as a police officer, freelance journalist and director of several companies in the leisure, engineering and marketing sectors. Denzil lives on Loch Lomond side with his wife, Fiona.

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