Dead Girls by Graeme Cameron arrived in my letterbox recently and I was intrigued to sit down and enjoy this book, which had all of the hallmarks of a good, absorbing psychological thriller.
This is the second book from Cameron who also wrote the number one New York Times bestseller, Normal. If you want a gritty, no holds barred police drama with lots of blood, guts and intrigue, then this is the book for you. Riveting, because it had me absorbed from beginning to end, Dead Girls, as its title suggests, is the hunt for a seemingly anonymous serial killer who has not only left five dead girls in his wake, but has killed and wounded several police officers as well.
Police Detective Alisha Green was attacked by the killer in his last standoff, where he mysteriously escaped capture. Her memory is patchy, with blank periods of events being a major concern. Her body is in pain, yet she has been signed off to continue working on the case.
As yet the killer has not been identified, but she calls him That Man. This chilling description embodies her emotional detachment from the trauma which she experienced at witnessing the murder of her colleague and the injury she herself suffered. Along with colleague Kevin McManus, who was also injured, her focus is to find the man who stole away a part of her life before he kills again. Ali is vulnerable as a protagonist as she finds creative ways to manage her memory lapses in order to pursue the killer. Not only must she hide her weakness, she must still present as a capable and functioning police officer.
What author Graeme Cameron has done so well in this book, is devote chapters to each character in order for them to tell the story from their own personal point of view. This lends an authenticity to the novel, as we engage variously with police officers and potential victims as the story moves ahead. We see flaws, emotional scarring and carefully managed addictions. There is also the pervasive sense of fear as the killer defies all attempts to be captured. He is elusive and in spite of attempts by the police force who are unflagging in their search, he seems to always have the upper hand. There is also the suggestion that one of his victims may also have become an accomplice. And if this is true, were they willing or was it due to being coerced into doing so.
As a psychological thriller twist, we read also of suspected accomplices who also desire to find the killer, but for what motive? Love or revenge? Ali Green herself, as a flawed protagonist stops at nothing to find the elusive That Man. As the body count rises, five girls have been found, but they are still looking for number six. With a grisly and gritty finale, the reader is left holding their breath as the primal battle between good and evil ensues.
Dead Girls by Graeme Cameron delivers on every count. Suspenseful, dramatic, gritty and yet entirely believable. My only criticism would be that it is a little disjointed in parts and at times I found the passage of events to be quite confusing. I prefer a linear narrative style, but managed to tie the loose ends together. I enjoy a good British police thriller, and Dead Girls certainly delivers.
Dead Girls, by Graeme Cameron is available in printed or digital editions from the publisher, HQ Fiction.