Dead Spit by Cary Smith

The mean streets of Lincoln hide a secret. Young women are being killed and it is up to Craig Darke and his team to unravel the mystery and bring the murderer to justice.

I was really looking forward to reading this book. It is one of my favourite genres, was based in an area I know very well and the synopsis was especially enticing. What could go wrong? Well, I’m not exactly sure but something did. I was left feeling more than a little disappointed. I feel as if I received an early un-proofed and unedited copy of the book. All the elements were there and, under other circumstances, this book would probably have earned my maximum rating.

To begin with, there were a number of basic punctuation and grammatical errors that sometimes made it difficult to follow. Also there were simple mistakes that a good editor or proof-reader would have pounced on. (For example, The Police National Computer was referred to with the abbreviation P.M.C on a couple of occasions and in one scene an officer named Pickard was called Pickwell.)

These things, although irritating, do not necessarily stand in the way of a good story. In this case however, there were some structural issues that hampered my enjoyment. The dialogue was a little frustrating. The use of clipped speech patterns for the majority of characters made them seem awkward and, as a result, a little unnatural. The plot was suitably convoluted for the genre but I felt that the author could have done more to pull the various threads together. I felt that the final resolution was a little weak but, as I don’t like to include ‘spoilers’ in my reviews, I shall simply say that I found it personally unsatisfying.

I am unwilling to give this book a wholly negative review, not least because I don’t think it deserves one. The writer has clearly done a significant amount of research and the detail is wonderfully accurate. The characters are, for the most part, strong and well defined. (Although at times there does seem to be rather a lot of them). The central thread of the plot is ingenious, cleverly described and ultimately plausible. Despite some structural anomalies the pace of the story is good and relatively consistent.

Everything needed to create a first class crime thriller is here. In spite of the various textual errors and inconsistences, there is a great (possibly even two) story to be told. Although my edition was deeply flawed, I hope to revisit the book in the future to see if it has fulfilled its potential. At which point I will happily write an updated review.





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