A DARK REDEMPTION

Written by Stav Sherez

Review written by Ali Karim

Ali Karim is a Board Member of Bouchercon [The World Crime & Mystery Convention] and co-chaired programming for Bouchercon Raleigh, North Carolina in 2015. He is Assistant Editor of Shots eZine, British correspondent for The Rap Sheet and writes and reviews for many US magazines & Ezines.


A DARK REDEMPTION
Faber and Faber
RRP: £12.99
Released: 16th February 2012
Pbk

In the hands of a lesser writer, the premise of a British police procedural set in London featuring a troubled, maverick Detective, who is in perpetual conflict with his superiors could rapidly slip down the cliché gradient. A Dark Redemption however does the opposite due to the literary ability of Sherez, with this, his third novel which appears to be the start of a powerful [and timely] series, and one with the theme of dogged obsession from the two lead investigators DI Jack Carrigan and his partner DC Geneva Miller.

Carrigan bears the scars of a visit he and two University friends made to Northern Uganda many years previously. While his partner Miller, has her own demons due to her recent demotion from Detective Sergeant due to ‘irregularities’ – she is assigned to work with Carrigan with the promise of reinstatement to her former rank as the incentive. The covert part of Miller’s role is to keep watch and report back on DI Jack Carrigan’s activities to the fifth floor. Miller’s unease at the assignment is a microcosm of the novel’s narrative structure, as a feeling of unease is striated across the novel as the two detectives delve under the surface of London ’s African-Immigrant community, and discover that there are complex agendas at play.

The case that binds Carrigan and Miller and provides the backbone to the novel is that of the brutal rape, torture and murder of an overseas student Grace Okello from Uganda . Carrigan considers initially that Grace’s horrific end was related to her abusive boyfriend, though Miller is less convinced, as she sees links to the murdered girl’s academic research into the armed conflicts in her native Uganda . As the case progresses, the odd coupling of the troubled duo starts to take shape. They soon see this case having tendrils that stretch back to Africa , and the horrific backdrop of child soldiers and terror that groups such as Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army [LRA] exploited.

As the detectives delve into the case, Sherez layers some very moving social commentary [and insight] into the dark and troubling lives these displaced Africans lead in modern-day London . The journey Carrigan and Miller traverse down the hidden streets of immigrant London, leads to a series of satisfying revelations and twist[s] leaving the two detectives positioned into what promises to be a remarkable series. Though at times the novel is truly dark, as it meshes the factual situation of the underbelly of displaced London [that the media ignore], with that of the frenzied imagination of Sherez.

This novel shares the themes of ‘stranger in a strange land’ that Sherez explored in his previous work ‘The Devils Playground’ and ‘The Black Monastery’ with his protagonists and antagonists grappling with a foreign landscape and agendas that they can not grasp. The other aspect that ‘A Dark Redemption’ shares with these precursors is the glimpse of a darker world that co-exists side-by-side with our own. There are sections in the narrative that make the journey truly terrifying, with a constant sense of unease that peppers the proceedings like the beat of an African drum.

Establishing a series upon the thread-bare carpet that is the police procedural subgenre is a risky endeavour, but one which Sherez has mastered creating a page-turning and thought-proving story which seems torn from the troubling reality that the media chose to ignore. Further proof of the skill deployed in this dark tale is the recent announcement that television rights have been sold for filming the continuing investigations of Carrigan and Miller.

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