Imperfection by Ray Clark – Book Review
By Sandra Callard
A blood-soaked thriller, containing more innovative ways of killing that I would care to remember. The suspects are few, and there is an unusual twist in that it is not so much a who-done-it, as a how-did-he-do-it.
The road to discovering this is dangerous for the main detective, D.I. Gardener, who is the only solid character in the force. His colleagues are shadowy and insubstantial, especially the Irish detective, Reilly, who sounds like a true-blue Englishman but occasionally ends his sentences with ‘so it is’, as if to remind us he’s Irish.
The book is set in Leeds, and the geography of the city is clearly represented in the street names, local areas and buildings. The opening chapter features the first murder, which happens in the famous Grand Theatre and Opera House, and as a Leeds resident I appreciate the correctness of the author’s artistry in his descriptions
“Reams of information”
Imperfection is extremely notable in parts. A huge part of the story involves the early days of cinema, the films, the actors, and the surrounding paraphernalia of make-up, costume and scenery. It is interestingly and laudably researched, and is the dominating theme throughout, but the plethora of characters who are knowledgeable on old films, and on whom the detectives rely, seems to minimise the cut and thrust of real detective work.
Lovers of the traditional who-done-it, in all its many guises, adore those wonderful gut feelings and police ‘noses’ that their hero detectives have, and which are so appealing in detective fiction. There are none of those here, as the detective force seems to rely wholly on various experts giving them reams of information which they really do not know how to utilise.
This is a book that starts hopefully and excitingly, but becomes enmeshed in meticulous descriptions of particularly brutal and horrific murders, which do not lie easily beside the matter-of-fact reactions of the detectives, most of whom would never see anything like the scenes in their entire careers. An interesting book nonetheless, by a good writer, but interest does wane and, ultimately, it fails to hold the attention.
‘Imperfection’ by Ray Clark is published by Urbane, £7.99