Saturday, 27 July 2019
A.A. CHAUDHURI - THE SCRIBE (2019)
Making it as a lawyer has always been a cutthroat business.
A killer is targeting former students of The Bloomsbury Academy of Law. The victims – all female – are gruesomely butchered according to a pattern corresponding with the legal syllabus. Even more disconcerting are riddles sent by the killer to investigating officer, Chief Inspector Jake Carver, offering clues as to who is next and where they will die.
Up-and-coming lawyer Madeline Kramer, a former classmate of a number of the slain, soon finds her life turned upside down by the savagery. And when she decides to help Carver track down the killer, she places herself in mortal danger. Can Maddy and Carver unscramble the complex riddles and save the lives of those destined to die?
A. A. Chaudhuri’s Ripper-like mystery, The Scribe, throws down a challenge even hardened crime thriller fans will be unable to resist.
A busy book and despite it's length of nearly 400 pages, quite a quick read.
A couple of murders get us started, one of which enables access to the real target, a young female solicitor in training. The killer leaves his victim with a particular signature cut into the victim's chest.
The death at her place of work introduces the lead detective, Jake Carver to one of the victim's co-workers Madeline Kramer.
More murders follow thereafter, each with similar markings and a message on the victim's chest. All the victims have a connection to the legal profession and appear to be former students of the same law academy. A serial killer is on the loose and is playing games with the police courtesy of taunting messages to the lead detective, and before too long Maddie Kramer, because of her on-going assistance to the police.
There was quite a bit about the story that kept me entertained and interested, but at the same time the author introduced elements that I found implausible and unrealistic.
I liked the investigation into the background of the victims. We delve backwards into scenes from the past and discover more about the victims, their friendships, their rivalries, inappropriate relationships and secrets. There appears to be a common denominator in respect of the victims and for a while at least that points us in the direction of a likely suspect. Fuel is added to this particular fire because of the actions of his wife. I enjoyed the dynamics of the relationship of the suspect with his wife, his mother and his students.
Along the way we discover more about the personal histories of Maddie, her flatmate and best friend, Paul, the lead detective Kramer, the chief suspect...... friendships, family history, secrets, connections, relationships, discord and tensions - some of which has future relevance to the resolution of the crimes and the unmasking of the killers.
The initial involvement of Kramer with some pointers as to the rationale of the message cut into the victim's chest I kind of bought into. Her ongoing involvement in the case and the ever increasing reliance by the lead detective, Carver on her thoughts and insights as more murders happened, was a bit too much of a stretch for me. There were efforts to promote a sense of tension and underlying attraction and chemistry between the two, albeit on a down low, slowly, slowly simmering under the surface and not really acknowledged by the pair openly basis. I think the author is setting the seeds for future novels involving the two protagonists. As such I wasn't particularly engaged by the potential romantic side of the possible future coupling.
A pattern emerges in the killer's behaviour which suggests future victims and the riddles sent to the police, add a bit of tension to the narrative, as efforts to decipher the coded notes, offer the promise of averting further tragedies. Again here I was less convinced by the elaborate scheming of the murderer. I was reminded of an 80s TV game show with Ted Rogers hosting where the participants had to decipher clues to win prizes. Once I had 3-2-1 in my head, I was kind of switched off from this strand of the tale.
Overall I was entertained. I did have to leave my scepticism at the door in order to get to the end. Like a lot of books I read - there were characters I liked, whose company was engaging, even if they weren't always behaving well. (I'm not talking about the murderer here.) The story had pace. I kind of guessed the involvement of one of the players, but the author did well with the overall reveal.
I think the overall measure of a books enjoyment is asking myself whether I would want to continue reading more about the characters in the future. Sadly on this occasion probably not.
3 from 5
Read - July, 2019
Published - 2019
Page count - 391
Source - review copy received from publisher, Endeavour Media
Format - Kindle