Review: “Dead Level,” Damien Boyd

Pros: Fascinating mystery solved by interesting characters
Cons: Some unfamiliarity; got a little confused toward the end
Rating: 4 out of 5

In Damien Boyd’s Dead Level (The DI Nick Dixon Crime Series), Lizzie, the (pregnant) wife of young politician Tom Perry, has been brutally murdered. There seems to be some evidence at the crime scene, but it doesn’t take long for the police to realize that it’s been compromised, and possibly even planted there. Just to make things even harder, the area is flooding massively, leaving most of their crime scenes underwater. Also, Dixon is still trying to solve a cold case that he was given.

 

‘We’ve lost the crime scene, Sir.’
‘What do you mean “lost it”?’
‘It’s under twelve feet of water.’

Just as a note, this novel takes place in Britain. (I doubt anyone will care enough to buy/not buy this book on that basis, but it helps to know up front which legal system you’re reading about when reading a thriller/mystery.)

I like the dialogue in much of this book. In particular the banter between Nick and Jane when they’re at home is lovely to listen to, and comes across as ‘real’.

The danger of telling the audience something before the characters figure it out is it’s almost impossible not to end up with some “agh why haven’t they figured X out yet?” frustration. (This is with respect to the misleading evidence.) It wasn’t carried out ridiculously far, though, so the frustration is short-lived, thank goodness.

I found that the background was relatively easy to understand despite jumping in at book five (the danger of being a reviewer).

The author’s note at the end of the book indicates that he had a bit of a soapbox going in with respect to an issue (diabetes and the treatment thereof). I thought he handled this extremely well. I never felt like I was being lectured; it always seemed entirely a part of the plot and background. That’s pretty unusual, so I applaud him.

I did have a little trouble toward the end keeping up with some of their leaps of thought with respect to who did what, but I might be a little slow this weekend.

 

Book provided free by publisher for review
Expected publication date: March 15, 2016

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