Adrian Magson is the author of 20 crime and spy thrillers, including the Harry Tate series, the Lucas Rocco series and the Marc Portman series. His latest books are ‘The Locker’ (Midnight Ink - Feb 2016) the first in a new thriller series, and ‘Hard Cover’ (Severn House - March 2016), the third of his Marc Portman novels.
An execution. One shot in the head through the side window of a car on a remote moorland road. No evidence, no clues and the only witness is the victim’s two-year-old son strapped in the back seat.
DS Jimmy Suttle is as puzzled as everyone else by the killing, and even more so by the fact that somebody made several phone calls afterwards to tell of the killing, presumably so that the boy could be collected. A killer with a heart?
But Suttle isn’t the only one on a trail. His estranged wife, Lizzie, a reporter, is looking to uncover a juicy story about severely wounded soldiers returning from Afghanistan, and a little-known care establishment known as Hasler Company. For this she has made a contact with handsome Royal Marine Captain Rob Merrilees… and she doesn’t care how far that contact has to go, as long as she gets her story.
These twin investigations set the parameters for them both, since the community in the Portsmouth-Southsea area is heavily Marine-based, whether still serving or discharged, and it doesn’t take long for Suttle and his colleagues to find themselves enmeshed in a mix of former Marines, families, business partners and others, all of whom appear to be concealing more than they are telling about the dead man.
When two more killings occur, both expertly carried out at long range and with deadly skill, it seems certain that an expert sniper is involved. And that points only one way.
This is a story about loyalties and resentments, comradeship and jealousy – and how simple is the tipping point when involving men who have been damaged by their experiences, and do not get - or seek - the help they deserve. Yet it’s not simply about them as victims; it’s about those who use them and the uncontrollable urges that have taken over these damaged and traumatised lives to get what they want.
This is an excellent crime novel, full of tension and intrigue. But it’s a story of relationships, too; of the sometimes fragile one between partners… and the often more complex ties that exists between comrades. More than that, in an understated way it’s about what happens to men who re-enter society and are expected to re-adjust, when everything they know has been turned upside down by the call of war and the deadly skills they have been trained to use.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, but it left me with a feeling of unease about the reality behind it, and the problems that lie ahead for those coming back from war.
Maybe that was the intention.