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Sherez, Stav - 'A Dark Redemption'
Trade Paperback: 384 pages (Feb. 2012) Publisher: Faber and Faber ISBN: 0571244866

This very superior new police procedural starts with a remembrance of a holiday to Uganda that Jack, David and Ben, three recently graduated students take to celebrate their new degrees and how it all goes wrong. They get lost on the way to Murchison Falls National Park and are captured by some rebel militia and are imprisoned and knocked about and even tortured because they are suspected of being spies.

Forward to the present day and Jack is now DI Jack Carrigan and he is called to investigate the terribly brutal murder of a young Ugandan student. Jack has a bad reputation with his line manager Superintendent Branch for insubordination and being sloppy in his techniques and Branch persuades a young DC, Geneva Miller, who had been demoted to DC because she struck a superior officer, to become a DS (on probation) in support of DI Jack Carrigan as long as she passes details of Carrigan's slip-ups to Superintendent Branch. Geneva is reluctant to be a stool pigeon but pleased to be given the opportunity to work as a Detective Sergeant once again.

Jack Carrigan briefs his team on the terrible murder of the student and they begin investigating all possible leads to trace the murderer before he can do another dreadful crime again. We learn that Jack was married for many years but his wife apparently killed herself and now he lives alone. We also learn that Geneva, who comes from a Czech background. is in the process of divorcing her husband and is arguing with him about their joint property.

There are intermittent reminders of the student holiday of Jack and what happened to the three friends throughout the book and how this is reflected in the present case that Jack is involved in. Jack's team really have to get involved in investigating student politics and the possible involvement of other Ugandan undergraduates in this awful crime. African and in particular Ugandan politics are explained in some detail especially the leaders of the past thirty or so years which was more interesting than you would think but that was down to the author's presentation of a particularly difficult subject.

Superintendent Branch is reporting the investigation of Carrigan to his immediate superiors and there are attempts to interfere with the inquiry which is a source of friction between the detectives. The Ugandan Embassy also attempts to stop the investigation which causes problems with the Foreign Office.

Jack and Geneva, as the lead detectives, to save resources, separately pursue different leads and it is very intriguing how each fact in the case in unearthed and how apparently unconnected details do eventually come together. They explore a lot of data and I particularly enjoyed the forensic intensity of this, which is normally skirted around in other books. The interaction of Carrigan and Miller is also interesting and of course there is a tension there because of Miller's worry of having to report on a man she has come to admire for his ability to analyse the problems they have to explore. Still it all comes to a most satisfactory conclusion and all the loose ends are eventually tied up. This is a very cleverly plotted book which I found most enjoyable. I only regretted not reading it sooner. It was one that once you start it is very difficult to put down. Especially recommended.

Terry Halligan, England
September 2012

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 16/09/2012 11:25