Crash And Burn by John Carson

Crash And Burn by John Carson
Publisher: Vellum
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

They left him for dead. They made a mistake.

On sabbatical from the force after a personal loss, DCI Harry McNeil spends his days renovating an old cottage he bought, and his nights down at the local bar. He’s living in a small town where nothing much happens. Until it does.

Harry meets a young woman who is searching for her brother who went missing in the area two years ago. He is special needs and she’s convinced he wouldn’t just run off.

Meanwhile, over a hundred miles away, a body is pulled from Loch Lomond, badly decomposed. In his pocket is the name of the missing man.

When the corpse is identified, it throws the missing man’s case in a new light.

Harry gets embroiled in the search and before long, his own life is put in danger.

A killer is on the loose and now he’s back in the town where Harry thought he was going to get peace, but he’s going to get much more than that…

After the recent upheaval and struggling with his grief, Harry McNeil is on an extended sabbatical and renovating a cottage he purchased. In the small town, nothing much happens, until one night Harry stumbles on a young woman who is searching for her missing brother. A seemingly easy favour quickly grows into something far larger and soon Harry is back doing what he does best – investigating.

On the surface this is an easy to follow mystery/suspense story with a number of excellent characters and plenty of Scottish flavour. I have to admit though – much of my patience and interest for the first quarter or so of the book is catching up with Harry himself and learning how he is coping with the recent death of someone very important to him and the ramifications from that loss. Readers who haven’t read the previous few books might feel the start of this book is a little slow and equally they might not understand the importance of this catching up in the start of the story. While I do feel readers who are new to this series will still enjoy the book, I think it will have far more weight and importance to those who – like me – want to catch up on how Harry is dealing with things.

That said, once the investigation gets underway the pace moves a little faster and the case certainly gets more interesting with a few twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. I feel this strong police procedural mystery really gets going and readers will find themselves as hooked as I was. A number of the series favourites are showcased here – though there are a few exceptions – and overall, I feel this is an excellent quick mystery novel. Harry is away from his home ground and not working in an official capacity as he struggles with his grief and coming to terms with the new settings in his life, all of which I find completely understandable.

Readers who have been following along this series should enjoy this mystery and the update to how Harry is progressing, and I equally feel this is a good read for those new to Harry McNeil as a whole. While knowing the background to a number of the secondary characters and Harry’s recent problems might make this story more emotionally compelling this will give new readers a really good taste for Harry’s world and Carson’s writing style, and I feel is a good place to see if this is a series they’d enjoy. Recommended.

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