I have been a big fan of Angela Marsons since the first Kim Stone book, but what makes these books so special, and what makes Dead Souls the best one yet.
A big bit about my review off Dead Souls was that it was written from the heart, there is a passion about everything that is written in this series. A passion for realism, a passion for her characters, a passion for her settings, and this all adds up to a fantastic story.
The opening chapter of this book describes a man attempting suicide. The detail in this opening few pages is outstanding and hooked me from the very start, but that was only the beginning.
In Kim Stone, we have a character we can all empathise with, she makes the decisions we wish we could. Yes, she can be a stubborn pain in the bum, but she’s fair and loyal to those around her. In this book, we see her team acting alone as she is tasked with working on a joint investigation with a neighbouring force. Just like in real life, when a key member of the team is missing the dynamics change, and Angela has written this beautifully, taking the opportunity to expand on some of the lesser characters in her books.
One of the Constables in her team, Stacey Wood, has always sat nicely in the background carrying out the computer based investigations, and rarely getting out on the street. In this book, she is more prevalent. Investigating the death of a teenage lad she starts to reflect on her own youth, her own insecurities her sexuality. She disagrees with the rest of her team over parts of the investigation and starts to feel more isolated, the more isolated she becomes the more her thoughts begin to affect her. She becomes convinced that the teenager’s death is not the suicide everybody else is treating it as and sets of on her own, unauthorised investigation.
Meanwhile the two main male characters in the team Bryant and Dawson, struggle with which one of them is going to be the “Alpha-male” without Kim’s controlling hand. As a series of serious assaults, and a murder, are connected Bryant is promoted to Inspector, effectively replacing Stone. The shift in the personalities at this point are intriguing. Will Dawson be adult enough to work effectively with Bryant. Bryant himself has always been happy playing second fiddle to Stones lead, but how does he handle being the main man.
With both being preoccupied with their own feelings and both trying to prove themselves, to each other as well as the bosses, will the investigation be compromised; and will either of them notice Stacey’s struggles.
All the time she is away Stone is working with Tom Travis, an ex-colleague and ex-friend; but why did he stop being a best friend and turn into a disgruntled associate in a neighbouring Force. It is no secret that the two don’t “play well together” and whenever Tom has turned up in previous books he has been a pain in Kim’s side. Thrown together to investigate a crime which has happened on the border of the two forces the pair have very different working styles and investigative techniques. At time this relationship is tumultuous, but will it ever be effective. It is one thing, compulsive reading.
Then there are the crimes being investigated by both teams. Stone and Frost are investigating a historical murder after the bones of 3 bodies are dug up on farmland during an archaeological dig, being carried out by a group of University students and their teacher.
This leads them to look into the history of the people who own the land and their tenants. Two families who could not be more diverse but are intrinsically linked through the generations.
Stone’s team in the West Midlands have are investigating a series of hate crimes that seem to have no motive. The targets of the crimes are from different backgrounds and would be seen as being from different minority groups, all of which are the targets of hate crime, but why these people, and why now?
Angela Marsons always manages to have one character in her books that makes me want more. There was the brilliant murderer Alex Thorne, a character I compare to Hannibal Lecter. In this book, the journalist Tracy Frost makes a brief welcome return, but by far one of my favourite characters in these books is back, Dr A the Macedonian Archaeologist who works at Aston University. This character is brilliantly written and provides a few light-hearted moments. A leader in her field, no pun intended, she is a friend of Kim’s who does not suffer fools lightly. One of her endearing features is her accent. In the middle of all the mayhem and murder she is written with a voice the reminds me of the French Policeman in ‘Allo ‘Allo, but she is no fool, in fact she is the complete opposite. I would love to see her featuring in her own book.
I don’t usually give star awards unless it’s on a site like amazon, where it’s a requisite, but for those who look for that type of award, it’s a 6-out-of-5 or an 11-out-of-10.
The way I measure a book is in how much I look forward to it, and when it arrives how long it takes to read.
I look forward to each Kim Stone novel like a kid looks forward to Christmas, and this book I read in 2 days, I only put it down to sleep and eat.
It really is the best book I’ve read.