Reviewer Janet Walker: Janet is the author of Colour To Die For, first of the Fee Weston Mystery Series. Janet lives in Australia and when she is not writing about P.I. Fee Weston's fight for truth, justice and a livable cash flow, she writes articles for magazines and fund raises for Australia's wildlife carers - heroes of the bush. For more about Janet and Fee visit Janet's WEBSITE
Author: David Grace
Publisher: Wildside Press LLC
A prostitute’s body is dumped in a wood chipper and carved in half, a school principal, his head covered in a plastic bag is run up a flag pole and left to slowly strangle to death – Detective Big Jim Donegan and his partner, Chris Hunter, sure do have interesting cases. They’re the lead Major Crime Unit detectives in the new thriller, Death Never Sleeps, by David Grace – an author who sure does write interesting books.
The murders, seemingly unconnected Jim Donegan has a gut feeling that whoever strangled prostitute Darja before dumping her body in a chipper either murdered school principal Truman or knows who did. Truman had been having an affair with a student’s mother and he was a client of murder victim, Darja. Just a coincidence? Middleclass and married, could be the guy was a serial cheater and somebody’s husband decided to make an example of him.
Jim doesn’t buy coincidence and he tells partner Chris there is a link between the two deaths; all they have to do is find it. A mentor to rookie detective, Chris, Big Jim at the start of the story would have been more aptly named: St. Jim. Employed in an environment where cops are often brutal and corrupt, he is one of the good guys. Doing his job with compassionate understanding, Jim catches bad guys and tries hard to minimize the fallout from his actions on the families of victims.
Just when you think Big Jim may be just a little too good to be true, author, David Grace (a master of characterization) weaves in a back story that shows Jim to be just as fallible as the rest of us. Good writing - Jim is still likeable but now he’s also a believable and multi-faceted character.
The back story provides the link to Jim’s interest in and mentoring of Chris Hunter. A lot younger than Jim, Chris, a nerd with 2 college degrees, finds social interaction not only difficult but well nigh impossible; a foreign country to him, he just doesn’t get it. Seven years away from retirement, Jim figures if he continues to partner Chris, then he will not only get it, Chris will be a damn good detective. You don’t always get what you wish for though, and there is a surprise in store for the reader.
Meanwhile, Major Crimes Unit boss, Captain Burwell tells Big Jim and Chris to get the murder investigations moving, he wants the perp/s found and sooner would be better than later. Leads don’t pan out and Jim and Chris work around the clock to vet suspects. There are intriguing examples of police procedural work during the entire course of the book; working within the framework of the law to catch a murderer can be time consuming, frustrating and extremely dangerous.
The plot, complex, David Grace occasionally halts the pace to flesh out subsidiary characters: the other squad room detectives, family and associates of the victims. I’m not usually a fan of this approach to crime writing but these ‘days-in-the-life-of’ or character studies are really interesting.
An investigation from the past shares equal billing with the murders of Darja and Truman and with writerly dexterity David Grace melds the cold case victim into the current murder investigations. In a scary exciting conclusion, Chris Hunter, as Big Jim predicted, gets it, ensuring the killer, a thoroughly nasty piece of work, also gets it (good result, I thought).
Death Never Sleeps is a well written, hard to put down murder mystery. Hope David Grace gives the investigations of Captain Burwell’s detectives another airing – I’d certainly be interested if he does.