An avid reader, Stephen's knowledge of Crime Fiction is fairly extensive, with The Golden Age is his greatest interest.
Now this is a cracking read if you like a detective thriller. In his latest case Simon Serrailler takes on a dangerous and challenging investigation when he agrees to go undercover as a prisoner in order to try to crack a paedophile ring.
The book opens in 2007 with a small child being found naked and bleeding after being spotted at night near some run down shops. You’re immediately into the drama, then there's a young girl in school drawing indecent images. There's something nasty going on in the town of Lafferton. An elderly lady living alone above the closed down shops hears and sees cars late at night, hears a child screaming and sees two men putting a very young child into the back of a car. This disturbs her, but she only notes down dates and details. When she is taken into hospital in 2010 she decides to give her notes to her friend who takes them to the police.
Now it's 2013 and Simon Serailler is meeting with officers of CEOP, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre. They explain that as a result of the notes, a disused shop was raided and a man, Will Fernley, was charged with making indecent images of children. However, the Police got no information from Fernley so no other members of the ring were caught, the ring was still free to operate. CEOP officers want Simon to go undercover at a prison unit specialising in treating paedophile prisoners. His task is to try to get close to Fernley and so get information about the other members of the ring.
Simon puts his private life with girlfriend Rachel on hold and goes undercover. As Johnno Miles a paedophile prisoner transferred to the Stitchford treatment unit from Dartmoor he can have no contact with anyone on the outside. Then begins the psychological testing of the inmates by means of group talking therapies were each individual has to relive his crimes and talk about his feelings. The mental pressure on Simon increases as he is questioned in a group situation will he be sussed.
This is an exciting case, the writing is extremely adept at giving you the pervading fear and edginess that you feel must exist in prison environments. The word out of place, the wrong look and trouble will ensue. For Simon even more is at stake he cannot be off guard for a moment. What sort of a man would take on such a challenge? He is a very clever and ruthless individual who can almost switch off the thoughts of his private life to concentrate solely on the case. Certainly, he puts the needs of the job above all else, his family, even his own happiness and maybe his life too. But, will this single minded approach be enough. He knows his is the last chance to try to bring to justice people who perpetrated such horrendous crimes. To do it he is going to have to get into the most violent and perverse minds.
Meanwhile, back in the world Simon has left behind his girlfriend is finding it tough to cope with no contact at all, not knowing where he is, how he is feeling particularly about her and what situation he is in. Also his father, an eminent medical man, but with a very arrogant attitude especially to women is accused of raping the wife of a colleague and immediately heads off to France.
Not seeming to be getting very far trying to get Fernley's confidence, suddenly Simon is let in to a secret. Fernley tells him he is going to make break from the unit and wants Johnno to go with him. Simon has to go for it he sees it as his only chance to get the information he needs from Fernley to break up the paedophile ring.
On the run with a dangerous paedophile and likely to be heading to a safe haven run by other criminals the situation cannot get much tougher for Simon Serrailler.