by Boris Starling
Category: Fiction / Crime
482 pages; ISBN: 0-00-651204-6
Rating: 7/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Nigel Utting
London is in the grip of a heatwave: airless days, strange steamy
nights and a killer stalking the streets. Wealthy men are being murdered to some mysterious pattern, with no clues left behind, only corpses with silver spoons in place of their tongues.
Detective Superintendent Red Metcalfe assembles a team of police officers to investigate a series of particularly unpleasant murders, during which each victim is mutilated by removal of the tongue, and replacement of that organ by a silver spoon. Initially, the only common denominator is that each victim is male and wealthy.
As the body count rises, Metcalfe and his team try frantically to find a pattern to the murders which will allow them to both forewarn potential victims, and to catch the killer. Having deliberately decided not to publicise the possibility of a serial killer on the loose, the entire investigation is jeopardised by a leak of information to the press - who can Metcalfe trust?
At this point I am going to jump to the conclusion, and say that this book is worth reading; but for the first half of the book I was far less impressed, and seriously at odds with the writer of the cover blurb who opined that this book (allegedly the "most compelling and suspenseful British thriller to come along in years") was "guaranteed to haunt [my] dreams".
However, at that midpoint - where the pattern to the murders is suddenly revealed - the book changes gear, and races to the end. All through Messiah, there is a secondary plot concerning DS Metcalfe`s personal life which, as might be predicted, is relevant to the finale. The ending will genuinely surprise you.
One major complaint is that whilst strong language, in context, does not bother me, this aspect of Messiah seems to have been added as an afterthought - almost as though the author suddenly determined that a book of this type should include expletives, and set about rectifying his omission. Frankly, the book would read just as well without, and the presence of strong language, spread thinly, adds nothing.
Buy Messiah at amazon.co.uk
Buy Messiah at amazon.com