Let me begin by listing the things I like about Bad to the Bone, first in a new crime thriller series by Tony J.Forder.
One: it’s well written.
Very well written.
Forder is clearly a writer, who cares about words and getting them in the right order and using the right word in the right place.
And he’s good at painting word pictures too.
Take his opening sentences, for instance.
‘It didn’t look much like a corpse. Other than the skull, of course. That was a bit of a giveaway. The bones themselves, clumps of moist soil clinging to them like leeches, looked more an array of dead branches and twigs than the remains of a human being.’
What reader wouldn’t want to read more?
Two: it’s tightly plotted and the story unfolds in a logical and ordered sequence.
The skeletal corpse belongs to a prostitute murdered 16 years earlier. It’s a cold case and DI James Bliss is given just seven days to find her killer.
But the more he and his sidekicks DC Penny Chandler and DS Bobby Dunne find out about the dead woman, the more questions they find.
And, after two retired policemen are murdered, it begins to look as though there’s been a cover-up involving senior officers.
Will Bliss walk away in order to keep his career intact or will he and his team fight for the truth no matter what the cost?
There’s plenty of red herrings along the way and, though I began to suspect the killer a few pages before Bliss, it was still a very satisfying conclusion.
Three: it provides an interesting and thought-provoking perspective on murder – a wicked crime, sometimes committed for the most banal and selfish of reasons by perfectly ordinary people.
Who do you know who has the potential to commit murder?
So, those are the things I like about Bad to the Bone.
Good writing, a thoughtful and vibrant plot – what reader wants more from a crime thriller?
I’d suggest just one more thing: a likeable hero.
Sadly, I just didn’t warm to Jimmy Bliss.
He had the requisite flaws and a complex back story, including a dead wife and a feud with his immediate superior, as well as the inevitable hard shell hiding a heart-of-gold.
But, somehow he lacked personality, which is a shame because it meant I didn’t engage as fully with the story as I might have done.
Perhaps for his next outing Forder can inject Bliss with a little of the laconic matter-of-factness that brings his opening lines so vividly to life.
I hope so.
Review by Sue Featherstone.
Available to buy on Amazon.