Kitson, Bill - 'Back-Slash'
Architect Alan Marshall is convicted of killing his wife by slashing her throat and is sent to prison for life. Six years into his sentence, some inconsistencies in the original evidence come up and following a new trial the original conviction is quashed and he is released but not acquitted. As the decision to release him was not thought to be very popular with the public, he takes a new name and identity and leaves the south east of England and starts working as a forester on an estate in Yorkshire. He now uses the name Andrew Myers and has been using his new identity successfully for two years until, whilst cutting some trees in a wild area on the estate, he has a terrible accident. As he doesn't own a mobile phone he manages to staunch the bleeding whilst he drives himself to hospital. His erratic control of his car attracts the attention of a police officer, Lisa Andrews. She manages to stop him and when she realises the extent of his injury she radios the hospital ahead and drives him there herself in her own vehicle.
There are more murder victims cropping up with slashed throats and it seems as if the killer has moved north. The hospital tell Lisa that they cannot trace any record of Andrew Myers with his date of birth and they need to find his NHS number. Lisa questions him but he declines to give the reason why his identity cannot be checked until he leaves the hospital. Lisa agrees to leave it until then. The other slasher murders cause Alan Marshall to go undercover as the police want to question him and he is scared of being wrongly convicted again. Lisa believes in Marshall but is suspended because of her trust in him.
Lisa's boss is DI Mike Nash and she and him have been trying to cover the policing of two towns as there is a flu epidemic amongst the other staff. The very tight plotting of this excellent police procedural shows the difficulties the police have when their numbers are reduced to the bare minimum and they have to cope with a very challenging crime epidemic. The story moves on at a frantic pace until the ultimate conclusion.
I thought this was an fantastic story with superb characterisation and there is a quote from a review in the Scarborough Evening News on the back cover saying "Don't read it on a bus, you'll miss your stop" which I thought was wonderful. I do not read on buses but I stayed up until 2.35am one night because I just could not put it down! This author has written four other stories in the "Mike Nash" series and I'm definitely going to look out for him as he deserves all the success he can get. If you want a book that once started you won't be able to put down, buy this one.
Terry Halligan, England