Final Warning by John Carson

Final Warning by John Carson
Publisher: Vellum
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

A detective on his way out. A pathologist already out the door. And a killer up for the challenge.

Detective Superintendent Calvin Stewart is on his final warning after messing up a crime scene in Glasgow. He’s never been one for desk duty and he’s not going to start now.

Finbar O’Toole is a pathologist and is at the crime scene where Stewart disgraces himself. There’s no love lost between the two men.

A violent incident takes place and Finbar steps in to save Stewart, and then the two men get talking.

A bond is formed as they set about tracking down a killer who’s been amongst them all this time – and nobody is even aware.

Finding roadblocks at every turn, they put their own lives on the line as they search for the truth and hunt down a killer who won’t let anybody stand in their way. Not even them.

Detective Superintendent Calvin Stewart has always been a man to walk his own path. When he’s put on desk duty – possibly for good – he has no intention of being forced to toe the line at this stage of his life. There’s no love lost between Stewart and local pathologist Finbar O’Toole but after an altercation at the pub the two men find themselves reluctantly talking and finding some common ground. Then when Finbar admits he strongly believes what was assumed to be a natural death due to a heart attack is the latest in a series of murders Calvin and Finbar team up to do what they both do best – find answers and hope for justice.

This is the first book in a new spin-off series for Carson and I really enjoyed it. Readers should be aware there is plenty of banter between the characters – and a lot of it is bawdy and not necessarily PC. Personally, I have thoroughly enjoyed Calvin Stewart’s character in the Harry McNeil series and am pretty excited to see him have his own series hopefully starting up now. I wouldn’t quite say Stewart is an anti-hero, but I don’t feel he will suit every reader’s tastes. He absolutely walks his own path and has no problems being rude – and crude – when he feels it warranted. He’s not your average hero and I can see why he’s somewhat of a polarizing character. Speaking personally, I enjoy him and find this a great read, but I can understand that this won’t be to everyone’s tastes.

As this is the first book in the series there’s a bit of set-up at the start of the book, properly introducing Calvin’s character and the team he works with, and the events that lead to him being desk-bound etc. I felt the pace moved along at a decent clip, but there is more banter than police work for much of this stage and while I completely understand how the situation needs to be explained this start to the book isn’t heavily involved in the eventual mystery and police procedure. Once Finbar and Calvin begin to talk and the mystery around the women’s death is divulged things move much more quickly and a lot more of the investigation work begins. And I definitely feel this is where Calvin – and Finbar – both shine.

Readers who enjoy Carson’s other novels should find this one similar enough in tone that they will enjoy picking this up as well. I personally am a big fan and am eager for the release of the second novel. Readers who are new to Carson’s work should find this a fun, fairly light and definitely blokey book full of banter and shenanigans. There is plenty of mystery and police procedure in it, but enough light and heart that readers should find it a fun and easy book to read with enough characters and interest to keep the pages eagerly turning. A fun book I absolutely enjoyed.

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