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O'Connor, Ed - 'Primal Cut'
Paperback: 368 pages (Mar. 2008) Publisher: Allison & Busby ISBN: 0749080248

'Common wisdom remembered brain paste. The old ladies of Silvertown would tell you. The porters at Smithfield market would tell you. No doctor would tell you, but what do they know?'....

With an opening paragraph like that you know you're not reading a cozy set in a picturesque country village with a sweet little old lady figuring out who left the letter opener in the vicar's back.

Bartholomew Garrod was desperate. His brother, Raymond was getting worse and the prescription pills were doing no good. Desperate times called for desperate measures. And after all, Bartholomew was a butcher who had the skill and knowledge to acquire brain paste.

Detective Sergeant Alison Dexter made her name with the Garrod case. Not that Alison wanted the fame. While Raymond died in the raid to capture the brothers in 1995, Bartholomew escaped and hasn't been found. He is around though. Alison had to transfer to another city because she was receiving letters and little "momentos" from Batholomew. Now, seven years later, it appears Bartholomew is back and hell-bent on revenge - his pound of flesh,if you like - literally. It is in Alison's interests to keep her public profile as low as possible.

PRIMAL CUT is violent. There are themes in the book that many probably couldn't stomach; dog fighting, cannibalism, bare-knuckle fighting. It's a very dark world Alison Dexter inhabits.

The character of Bartholomew has shades of Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber about him. Only Bartholomew is the Demon Master Butcher who enjoys butchering and cooking meat. In fact, you could say he is something of a gourmet.

Ed O'Connor's real strength is being able to ratchet up the tension. This is what kept me turning the pages. I found O'Connor's habit of referring to Alison Dexter by her surname a little disconcerting for some reason. Perhaps it is because I usually associate that with males.

Despite the suspense, I found some of the plot elements to be predictable. I can't say "enjoy" is a word I'd use to describe PRIMAL CUT, but if you do fancy a walk on the dark side then this book will well and truly satisfy that desire.

Sunnie Gill, Australia
March 2008

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 30/03/2008 12:43