*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author and to Zoé of Zooloo’s Book Tours. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: When a high-end escort is discovered murdered in her plush waterside apartment, so begins the hunt for a serial killer known as The Crucifier due to the unusual slaying and positioning of his victims.
In parallel there remains the need to locate a dangerous and elusive doomsday cult.
DCI William Chamberlain and DI Judd Stone have an acute thirst for justice on both accounts.
Stone is an ex-football hooligan turned cop. Riddled with guilt and anger, he is used to getting results – albeit somewhat unconventionally.
Chamberlain suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, but curiously, as his health deteriorates, his ability to perform acts of telekinesis increases. When faced with life or death, Chamberlain progresses from manipulating physical matter to controlling minds and sets in motion a dramatic chain of events. But why do things spiral out of control, placing an unknown high-profile target in danger?
Assistance comes from the most unlikely of sources but who is also working against the wheels of justice?
And just what is the connection between The Crucifier, the cult and the high-profile target?
With Spaghetti Western overtones, the chase from Liverpool to London and through both Birmingham UK and Alabama, finds both detectives having to confront their darkest demons in pursuit of the sweet taste of revenge.
I was excited to pick up this crime thriller by Martin Tracey, as it is mostly set in Birmingham, UK (where I lived for a good few years) and features a main character with a chronic illness (Multiple Sclerosis) working as a detective chief inspector in the ‘Birmingham and District’ police force, ironically shortened to B.A.D.
I say ironically, because it was a fine line throughout this story as to who the ‘bad guys’ and ‘good guys’ actually were! There is a fine line between being a renegade cop and being a vigilante-justice killer, and the main characters, DI Judd Stone and DCI William Chamberlain, seem a little hazy on where they draw that line at times.
We find out the identity of the serial killer, who is murdering women and grotesquely disfiguring them, relatively early on in the plot, but that strand is only one thread in many, which include forays into football hooliganism, religious cults, high-class prostitution/escorting, and brainwashed ‘lone gunmen’ who may or may not be ‘patsies’. Each of these diversions are accompanied by a wealth of detailed information, historical anecdotes and philosophical, psychological or spiritual musings – the author clearly did A LOT of research when writing this book.
Whilst the result is a treasure trove of fascinating facts merged with the fictional characters and plot at the relevant points, it does slow the action side of the story down somewhat and gave the book a little bit of a cluttered feel as we delve into Waco, Manson, the Beatles, Birmingham landmarks, the history of British football hooliganism and grassy knolls, among other related topics. I actually enjoyed these little forays into fact, but they did make me lose track of the fiction at times.
What I couldn’t possibly lose track of were the two main characters of the book. Apparently untroubled by law or conscience, DI Stone and DCI Chamberlain are united in their dual purposes: to catch criminals by any means, fair or foul, and to avenge the past wounds of their loved ones. Judd goes about this in rather a direct way, relying heavily on his fists to get him where he wants to be, and his reputation to get him out of the trouble afterwards. He casually alternates between sleeping with witnesses and battering suspects, making me wonder how he managed to stay out of trouble long enough to close a single case! William Chamberlain, in complete contrast, is physically hindered by the progress of his MS, but has developed telekinetic abilities which he gradually realises can be honed to allow him to influence the minds of others. But of course, as an upstanding and well-respected police officer he would never dream of using said powers to enact his own personal vendettas… surely?
When the paranormal elements of the plot were first introduced to the plot, I wasn’t quite sure how they would fit in with the other elements, which tend more towards dark and gritty realism. As it goes, I found I liked the character of DCI Chamberlain and the development and use of his more ‘specialist’ skills was a really nice twist – a cerebral alternative to DI Stone’s more heavy-handed (and often self-destructive) tactics.
This is a complex and involving deep dive into the dark side of life – prostitutes, cults, hooligans, gangsters, killers – which draws a corresponding darkness from even the ‘good guy’ characters (male and female), keeping the reader unnerved throughout. And it is only the first in the Judd Stone series… just imagine which depths he might explore in future instalments!
“What we have, DI Stone, is a murder executed way beyond anything we have ever experienced before on this force, certainly to my memory at least. The methods used in killing this poor girl are both extreme and bizarre,” replied Detective Superintendent Francis, choosing to ignore the cigarette smoke that was unintentionally swirling its way towards him from the direction of his detective inspector. Making exceptions for Judd Stone was a common occurrence for Ben Francis. Although Francis himself was a strict disciplinarian, he also had the good sense to know that Judd Stone was a very efficient detective inspector, in spite of his rough edges and often unorthodox methods in executing his duties.– Martin Tracey, Mind Guerrilla
Mind Guerrilla is available on Amazon right now.
Don’t forget to check out the other blog stops on the tour for more great reviews and content (see the poster below for details)!