The Unquiet Grave, By Steven Dunne
The Unquiet Grave
Det Insp Damen Brook has just returned to the Derby constabulary after his suspension for misconduct. His vengeful boss puts him to work in the station’s sepulchral basement, where the cold-case unit is located. Little does anyone realise that Brook is about to link several old, unpromising cases to the recent disappearance of a teenage boy, thus revealing the presence in Derby of an inveterate serial killer and a history of police corruption. The standard thriller elements are here – mystery, suspense, gruesome murder, maverick cop and insane killer – but the writing is clumsy, the dialogue lifeless, the characters superficial and the motivations unbelievable. Brook never rings true as the genius detective (no matter how many times his fawning sidekick Noble asks in disbelief, “How do you do that, boss?”), and attempts at characterisation consist mostly of repeated reference to a handful of contrived traits, such as his “one-note laugh” and his pantomimic habit of wincing every time someone swears. He’s also quite the hypocrite, prone to sanctimonious disapproval of others’ malfeasance yet untroubled by his own corrupt methods.