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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Stories on Saturdays: Birdman

Title: Birdman
Author: Mo Hayder
Publisher: Transworld
Published: 2000
Genre: Crime Thriller

Find it at Amazon UK

The Blurb says ...

Greenwich, south-east London
DI Jack Caffery - young, driven, unshockable - is called to one of the most gruesome crime scenes he has ever seen.


Five young women have been ritualistically murdered and dumped on wasteland near the Dome.  Subsequent post-mortems reveal a singular, horrific signature linking the victims.


Soon Caffery realises that he is on the trail of that most dangerous offender: a serial killer.  Beset by animosity within the police force, haunted by the memory of a very personal death long ago, Caffery employs every weapon forensic science can offer to hunt him down.


Because he knows that it is only a matter of time before this sadistic killer strikes again ...


My Verdict: Grisly and gripping, a really strong police-focused crime thriller (recommended for crime fiction fans)


The crimes in this book are not for the faint-hearted (fans of Val McDermid and Kathy Reichs are likely to find much to enjoy here), but the strength of the novel lies in its plotting and characterisation.


Caffery is a realistic and sympathetic character: flawed, complex and interesting.  His problems are not limited to needing to catch the killer, which allows Hayder to space out the main plot's action while still satisfying the reader with progression of a subplot.


The novel also occasionally features a chapter from the killer's point of view which doesn't in any way spoil the Big Reveal, but increases the tension by creating missed opportunities and unfollowed clues.  More than once, I was close to telling the police out loud what they should be concentrating on - which is not good when you read on the train!  Incidentally, this book also taught me that it is bad to read at the bus stop at dusk when you are reading a tense crime thriller, no matter how keen you are to keep reading. 


This is the first Jack Caffery novel - there are currently five available.  I will certainly be reading more of them.  Mo Hayder has also written standalone novels, which are also now on my ever-increasing 'to read' list. 


I received this book via Transworld's Great Crime Caper, but this did not influence my judgement.
This review is my third for the British Books Challenge, since Mo Hayder is a British novelist.

2 comments:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, as I did! I can recommend Mo Hayder's Gone too and I'm going to read the books inbetween when I've got a moment.

    I've go Mo Hayder's next standalone book here waiting to be read and I can't wait to get stuck in (though there's a book or two for me to read first).

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  2. So not for me. Grisly... *shudders* Glad you enjoyed it though.

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