Monday 4 August 2014

The Coercion Key by Catriona King (a review)

This is the seventh in Catriona King's D.C.I. Craig series and there is no let up in the quality of the writing.

The series, as a whole, flows nicely, with occassional mentions of previous events, relating to both old cases and the lives of the members of Craigs' squad. With this in mind it is helpful to have read the previous books in the series ( but not vital - it also works as a stand alone novel ).

The novel starts with Easter approaching and the squad in a bit of a lull, with not much to keep them busy since the events of two months earlier ( see The Slowest Cut - book 6 ) but that soon comes to an end when Dr. Winter, the pathologist hands Craig three files. These files are for three separate suicides, all of which would go unnoticed if not for the fact that they all had plenty to live for and all wrote exactly the same worded suicide note.

I found this to be another step up in gear for the author, the idea of murder by suicide being a particularly clever twist - each book so far has had something different to work with, no formulaic same old same old here. The storytelling is confident, as I would expect, and the threat to the squad will have you heading toward the seat edge. After one particular incident ( you'll know it when you get there ) I was so stunned by what had happenned I had to put the book down and walk away as I wasn't sure I wanted to see the fallout.

And that, for me, is the true strength of this series. Yes, the crimes are intriguing, the story lines are gripping but the true heart of this series is the lives of the squad. I've found I really care about what happens in the day-to-day of the characters, be it the little things or the life changing events.

A top quality addition to a wonderful series (and surely only a matter of time before someone picks this up for filming )

5/5 stars