Thanks to Rachel over at Rachelsrandomresources and the author, John Mead, for the invite onto the blog blitz for The Fourth Victim.
Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:
Three parks, three deaths, four victims, two grieving families, one murder enquiry team and an unknown number of killers. Can an answer be found? Whitechapel is being gentrified, the many green spaces of the area, which typify London as a capital city, give the illusion of peace, tranquillity and clean air but are also places to find drug dealers, sexual encounters and murder. Detective Sergeant Julie Lukula doesn’t dislike Inspector Merry but he has hardly set the world of the Murder Investigation Team East alight. And, it looked as it the inspector was already putting the death of the young female jogger, found in the park with her head bashed in, down to a mugging `gone wrong’. The victim deserved more. But the inspector isn’t ruling anyone out; the evidence will, eventually, lead him to an answer.
That blurb certainly intrigued me and made me want to open up the pages and find out more. Opening with a death and the dreaded knock at the door from the police, The Fourth Victim, had a strong opening which drew me into to the story straight away.
DI Merry and DS Lukula couldn’t be any more different to each other; both characters have great potential to go on to make a readable series. The premise of the book was good and the storyline intrigued me. It moved along at a fairly fast pace and was relatable in terms of the police cuts and worries about budgets. I enjoyed my introduction the characters, although I felt I’d have got to know them a little better if the issues I mention below were addressed. I’m not sure that I liked all of the characters but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! It’s sometimes good to have characters who leave you feeling a little bit conflicted!
I felt that it was a very disjointed read. At times, I wasn’t sure whose voice was being used as it switched back and forth with no clear break; the author also switched from using first names to surnames which made working out who people were a little bit confusing. I also felt that the references to characters sexuality and race continuously throughout were unnecessary for the storyline. In particular there was an over egging in relation to the female characters and their sexuality. These above issues for me really detracted from the story.
Particularly interesting were the chapters dealing with D.I.D (Dissociative Identity Disorder) and it was clear that this is an area of interest for the author. He managed to convey the condition without it feeling like an information dump. He also acknowledged the scepticism that exists about the condition and the difficulty in treating it.
I believe that this book has great potential but for me the plot worked but was let down by character development and a lack of editing.
The Fourth Victim is available to purchase from:
About the author:
John was born in the mid-fifties in Dagenham, London, on part of the largest council estate ever built, and was the first pupil from his local secondary modern school to attend university. He has now taken early retirement to write, having spent the first part of his life working in education and the public sector. He was the director of a college, a senior school inspector for a local authority, and was head of a unit for young people with physical and mental health needs. When he is not travelling, going to the theatre or the pub, he writes.
John is currently working on a trilogy of novels set in modern day London. These police procedurals examine the darker side of modern life in the East End of the city.