Review: “Play Dead,” Angela Marsons

Pros: I really like Kim as a character; mostly good plotting
Cons: Really? We’re still on gender-identity trauma leading to psychopathic behavior?
Rating: 2 out of 5

Angela Marsons’ Play Dead (Detective Kim Stone Book 4) focuses on Kim Stone, an irascible detective who rubs everyone the wrong way. She picks up a case in which a body was found at the Westerley body farm; a woman was suffocated by having her mouth filled with dirt after taking a fair amount of head trauma. Not long thereafter a second body shows up–but the killer was interrupted and they managed to save the woman, although she has amnesia now. Kim needs to find out what connects the bodies–and fast, before more turn up.


Duncan, our unnamed almost-corpse’s boyfriend shows up and identifies her as Isobel Jones. He also mentions that she’s actually married and having an affair with him. The police basically say, ‘oh, okay, thanks’. They never look into Duncan as a suspect; I’ve had the impression that you always look at family and significant others first. Also it never occurs to them to notify her husband! Talk about sloppy police work and an obvious plot hole!

It becomes obvious early on that the killer (who gets his own stereotypical monologues) is a male whose mother wanted him to be female, which lead to a traumatic experience at his school. There are also tea parties and dolls involved. It wasn’t that long ago that I read another thriller with an extremely similar bad guy, even including the dolls; once again there’s the notion that gender-related trauma creates psychopaths. I’m sick of seeing books that make that cause-and-effect connection. We should be past that by now.

Psychologist Ted, whom the cops call on for help, makes a few magical-seeming connections from very little data. He’s a bit of a deus ex machina. This isn’t the first place in the book where the book hand-waves important information.

The only thing that appeals to me in this novel is Kim. She’s irritating, but not in a way that makes me question her ability to function in her job. Watching her work is interesting and unusual and I enjoyed it.


Book provided free by publisher for review
Expected publication date: May 20, 2016

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