Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Locked In: Kerry Wilkinson


This is a police procedural, set in Manchester, England, the first in a series featuring recently promoted Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniels. Jessica is a nice, normal person, living with a roommate she is fond of. In fact all the members of the police force in this book are human, believable, not grand-standers and none have the personality flaws that are often associated with fictional detectives.  The only damaged cop seems to be Jessica's ex-partner who is retired after being attacked in a bar.

The story begins as Jessica is called to house where a woman has been killed. How the killer gained entry to the dwelling, and exited the dwelling leaving it locked, is in question. A reporter gets a tip about the murder, publishes facts he should not know, and some suspect that Jessica is his source.

I liked this book. I plan to read more in the series. Jessica is a likable character, and I was invested in what happens to her next. The depiction of the investigation was well done; there is a lot of plodding police work and mistakes made as the search goes on and on.

However, I did have several criticisms of the story and the writing as I read it, and some of those elements might bother other readers more. Some reviewers noted that they spotted the culprit and the resolution to the locked room mystery early on; I did not, but I was bothered by too many coincidences. There were many vague references to other plot lines that were not resolved... perhaps the intention was to follow up on them in future books in the series. 

Although this mystery was flawed, it was a good first novel, and it held my interest from beginning to end. Especially at the end.

When I purchased this book, it had been a best-selling e-book on Amazon UK. Usually, I would not be attracted to a best seller.  In this case, my motivation for buying and reading the book was that the Puzzle Doctor at In Search of the Classic Mystery had enjoyed it and recommended it. Also see the positive review at Raven Crime Reads, which includes more information about the author's success. There are now seven Jessica Daniels books, with more planned; see the author's website. All the books are not available in the US.

I was impressed by the Afterword in my trade paperback edition of this book. The author tells the story of writing the book and expresses appreciation to the readers who encouraged him and bought his first book. He seems like a very nice person. Kerry Wilkinson was interviewed at the Shotsmag website. I like this quote:
I don’t believe people read long series of books - or watch a long series of something on television - because they are desperate to know what the next crime is. Why would they? They can buy any of the other thousands of crime books or watch any of the other TV shows. Or do none of that at all and play Angry Birds on their phone. I believe they come back because they’re invested in the character. It doesn’t even have to be for a positive reason – they might hate them and hope they get a comeuppance.
Caring one way or the other is important.
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Publisher: Thomas & Mercer [2013]; originally self-published 2011.
Length: 319 pages
Format: Trade paperback

17 comments:

  1. Tracy - Thanks for such a great review, as ever. Like you, I'm not one to like too many co-incidences. Still, it's refreshing to have a normal protagonist, if I can put it that way. Certainly this seems worth reading - thanks.

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    1. Margot, since this story kept me interested and had a good pace, I forgave the coincidences and the other small niggles. Also, the fact that it was a debut novel. I will see how the series progresses.

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  2. I have seen the author's books around, but haven't felt compelled to pick them up, let alone contemplate buying anything of hers. Don't know why - gender aversion? Possibly, or just too many books and I don't want to commit to anything else that I won't read any time soon.
    Living in the UK - I think I'm more driven to read books set in the US and further afield, than on home turf.

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    1. Col, like you, I thought the author was female. I nearly read the book in February, my month of female authors, until I discovered that Wilkinson was male (in the nick of time). Actually one thing I was concerned about was how well a man can write from the woman's point of view. Regardless, this book doesn't have the gritty noir feel that most books you like have.

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    2. Oops......I assumed she was female! Sorry, I stand corrected.....probably not going to make me sample her......oops his work!

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  3. I agree that there is perhaps one too many coincidences - and that one is a massive one, isn't it? But what impressed me about this one is Kerry Wilkinson's efforts to create a genuine clued mystery tied into the police genre along with a issue-free heroine (although I'll warn you, I don't think that'll last - I'm on book four now). There are flaws here, and there are similar issues with the next two books as well, but I'm enjoying the series and am looking forward to the next one too.

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    1. Puzzle Doctor, I am glad to hear that you have enjoyed the later books. I have seen your later reviews but sort of skimmed them. As much as I try not to read anything about the later books, I have also seen descriptions of more recent books that gave me the impression that she does have issues later... I hope I will continue to enjoy the series also.

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  4. TracyK: It sounds like an interesting series but from your review and the comments it will not be a priority for me.

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    1. I understand, Bill. We all have lots to read already. Myself, I have got to work in some Canadian books soon.

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  5. I had assumed this was female too. I downloaded the opening chapter as a free sample on my Kindle a while back, but wasn't sufficiently inspired to carry on. Perhaps I should look again.

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    1. Moira, I enjoyed it (obviously) and I felt like the good points outweighed the bad. But you might not find it so. One thing I thought was interesting was how many books he has written in 3 years. That always makes me worry, but some really good authors have been very prolific. And I like his enthusiasm.

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  6. I do like the isea of a locked room mystery set in the real world with rela people - shame it's been scrappy by the sound of it but willd efinitely give it a go - thanks TracyK.

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    1. I will be interested to know what you think of it, Sergio.

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  7. I haven't heard of this author before now. Thanks and I love a good police procedural. Thanks Tracy.

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    1. Keishon, I go for police procedurals more than private detectives or amateurs. I love discovering new series.

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  8. Tracy, I have hardly read any books with female protagonists in recent years, something I need to correct, but I think I'll skip this one for now.

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    1. Prashant, I think I liked the energy in this story. And of course, police procedurals are a favorite of mine.

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