Book Review: Brass in Pocket by Stephen Puleston

brass in pocketIt is the middle of the night …The road is deserted …A killer is waiting … Two traffic officers are killed on an isolated mountain pass in North Wales. Inspector Drake is called to the scene and quickly discovers a message left by the killer – traffic cones in the shape of a No 4. The killer starts sending the Wales Police Service lyrics from famous rock songs. Are they messages or is there some hidden meaning in them? Does it all mean more killings are likely? When a politician is killed Drake has his answer. And then the killer sends more song lyrics. Now Drake has to face the possibility of more deaths but with numbers dominating the case Drake has to face his own rituals and obsessions. Finally when the killer threatens Drake and his family he faces his greatest challenge in finding the killer before he strikes again.

Picked up as a free ebook from Amazon during an offer period.  This is one of the first traditional crime procedurals I’ve read in ages (perhaps years) and it’s also set in the less-than-traditional Welsh countryside, so I believe that’s why I picked it up.  This is the first in the Inspector Drake series.

Drake is a married man with several children and he has plenty of his own issues. He finds solace and peace in having order around him – even if it means staying at work late to have his desk tidy and the soduku puzzle finished.

The story starts with two traffic policemen being lured out to a remote area in the Welsh mountains before being brutally killed, one from a crossbow bolt in the eye, the other by having his throat cut.  The deaths of two policemen brings focus from both on high and the media who are immediately declaring a serial killer and demanding to know when the killer is going to be caught.

Investigating the two men brings up plenty of suspects – from the female policewoman who was manouvered out of the force after making claims of harassment, to the ex-wife who was fed up of the serial adultery, to the criminal who maintained Physical Violence by both policemen during an arrest.

At the scene of crime there is a message (the number 4) soon to be followed by a line from a song – Brass in Pocket by the Pretenders.  At the first press conference, the song is brought up by the press – indicating a leak within the police.

Before any arrests can be made, a local politician is found murdered at the top of a mountain. Despite thousands of people being up the mountain, and cctv in major points, when they do get a picture of the killer, it shows he is so heavily disguised, all they can know is that he’s well organised.   There is a second number and a second song left behind.

The investigations seem to be going nowhere, even after the third murder, and some coincidences break the case. However it’s potentially too late for Drake, as it seems that his family are to be the next target, and he’s not entirely sure why……..

This story contains several damning statements on the police force which is portrayed as a men’s club that refuses to tolerate weakness or allow for what are perceived as agitators. They are seen to be protecting the likes of Matthews and Farrell. The personnel files of both men are massive due to the number of complaints against them and they would have been been fired from any other force/job for their behaviour. Meanwhile the female source of one of the complaints is manoeuvred out of her job due to her complaints, and her application to rejoin the police is put straight into the shredder by the senior officer.

The Police Profiler appears to be ineffective and rarely comes up with anything that Drake didnt work out for himself.  Caren, Drake’s second in command is decent enough, with the potential to be a maverick policewoman in her own right – but she’s not there yet!

There is cooperative work with other police departments, and I note that one of the other characters (Marco) is set up here to star in another series by the same author.

I accept this book was free, it was a not-known-to-me author and it’s been a while since I’ve read a modern police procedural. It didn’t grip me entirely but that might have been me – overall the book was decent enough.

About this author

I write mysteries and thrillers.

I have published the first novel in a series featuring Inspector Drake based in North Wales and also the first in a series with Inspector John Marco based in Cardiff. The first Drake mystery is called BRASS IN POCKET and the second WORSE THAN DEAD. The third, AGAINST THE TIDE.

My second detective is Inspector Marco who comes from an Italian/Welsh background and he lives in Cardiff, the capital city of Wales. The first Inspector Marco novel SPEECHLESS has been published on Amazon and the second and third in the series will be published in 2015.

Before turning to crime fiction I had written three other unpublished novels and you can read about my writing and about Wales, one of the most beautiful countries in the world, on my website http://www.stephenpuleston.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

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