PERFECT REMAINS By Helen Fields
Published by Harper Collins UK
The perfect death
leaves perfect remains…
On a remote Highland mountain, a body burns. All that’s left behind are the victims teeth and a fragment of silk. Meanwhile, in the hidden room of a house in Edinburgh, a second woman screams into the darkness.
It’s D.I Luc Callanach’s first day with police Scotland, and he’s handed a homicide investigation. With everything to prove, he and his new colleague D.I Ava Turner are up against a killer who meticulously covers his tracks.
When a third woman is taken , Callanach’s is desperate to prevent another innocent death- but the real fate of these women is more twisted than he could ever have imagined…
The opening lines of the first page set the scene for this creepy, dark crime thriller … Perfectly. It becomes immediately clear that we are watching the killer in the act. We gain valuable insight – fast. We know instantly he is a depraved character and the way in which Fields describes the scene is very insightful to the type of man we are dealing with…
What is unusual and refreshing about this debut novel is that we know from the word go who the perpetrator is, so rather than playing detective we take up the role of psychologist- analyzing him, trying to understand him. The style of writing allows us direct access into his disturbing thought processes . He is highly intelligent but devoid of empathy – very cold… Meet the meticulous, calculated psychopath that is Proffesor Reginald King. Instead of reading on to find out who the killer is we read on because we want to learn more about the psychology of the killer and see what else he is capable of as we try to calculate his next move.
We are witness to his paranoia and his violent outbursts all the while watching him going about his daily life. Pruvu to his private thoughts and public actions.This is deliciously exciting but I felt repulsed and disgusted by his grotesque actions, the scenes depicted are both graphic and extremely violent. It’s not for the sensitive or faint hearted, I personally felt at times it was too much for me and it took me well out of my comfort zone. I had to take a pause, and take a deep breath before reading on.
As the reader, what I found most chilling was that King, could be so murderous, and full of rage, harbouring lustful, obsessive and vengeful thoughts , killing in the most depraved and violent ways and yet function as a ‘ normalish’ member of society- holding down a long term job where although not popular amongst his contemporaries , he manages to integrate with society without drawing too much attention to himself.
Fields successfully builds a very strong character in King, we are allowed valuable insight into his disturbed and unbalanced thoughts and it makes for gripping reading! It also shows her incredible talent as she expertly depicts a dispicable, loathesome character… Adding all his traits together to create the perfect serial killer. He both enthralls and repels us in equal measures!
Helen Field has definitely taken the time to carefully research and refine her information. She knows her subject well , and it shows. This book is slick, slick,slick!
The authors involvement within the criminal justice system is evident throughout, her insider knowledge and use of professional terminology reinforces the dialogue, which is both clear and believable. Contrary to slowing down the pace which I have found in other novels where dialogue between characters is stilted and feels forced- making it slow and unnatural, in Perfect remains it is believable, and flows naturally in a way that never confused and was actually very easy to read. Superbly written – It was so vivid in my mind that I felt as if I were watching a cleverly edited programme.
Another thing I loved about this book, is despite its complex plot it never gets confusing and muddled as I have experienced many times. It was obviously crystal clear in the writers mind and this shines through, expertly written and exciting throughout Fields most definitely knows her content!
The main protagonist Luc Callanach is a complex but engaging character. Slowly through the course of the novel we learn more about his past as Fields drops bread crumb clues that there is a damaged, dysfunctional relationship with his mother and that there was a controversial reason why he left France to join the Scottish force, but we have to wait to find the reasons.The fact he is half French adds even more interest as his dialogue is peppered with French phrases. He is definitely a character I would like to find out more about and that is why he has been depicted perfectly in this first book of the D.I Callanagh series… Likeable but flawed , a fantastic investigator – No one will read this and not be excited for the next one!
I loved the interaction between Luc and Ava, and as Perfect remains is the first in a series I feel that there is an undercurrent that their relationship may develop and that there is lots of room for these characters to develop as Fields reveals more about them and their past. Ava is very warm and down to earth her easy to relate to character adds a bit of warmth back into this frightening, gory tale! I am excited to watch her character develop and to see if the evident spark and understanding between her and Luc evolves into a romantic relationship.
Interwoven with the main plot are several sub- plots with themes of abuse, underage pregnancy and church with religious connotations- this added an extra dimension of realism to the story as it gave us an understanding of the other cases being investigated in Edinburgh at that time and the story thus becomes multi layered rather than flat. Far from detracting from the main storyline I felt it successfully added depth and believability.
This is a MUST read for fans of crime thrillers. For those that are new to this genre this will most definitely convert you!
If you like psychology and criminality you will love Perfect remains, slick, fast paced with horrific events and credible characters some that you will like and others you will loath, this intense, dark, thrilling read is spine tingling from start to finish.
I would like to thank Avonbooks and Harper Collins Uk for the opportunity to read and review this book.