Dead Level by Damien Boyd

Dead Level by Damien Boyd
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

In the early hours of Christmas Eve, the wife of parliamentary candidate Tom Perry is brutally murdered in an apparent burglary gone wrong.

With the by-election campaign about to start in earnest, and the festive season in full swing, torrential rain brings with it flood warnings on the Somerset Levels.

Suspended on full pay and transferred to the cold case unit, Detective Inspector Nick Dixon is languishing on the sidelines as the investigation into Elizabeth Perry’s murder unravels and the floodwaters rise.

Returning to duty, Dixon is convinced that the answer lies hidden in Tom Perry’s political life, but why was Elizabeth the target and not her husband? The more Dixon uncovers, the further he is from finding the truth…

DI Nick Dixon is suspended on full pay while a disciplinary action is investigated against him. Working temporarily in the cold case unit he’s grateful just to be kept busy. But when a local parliamentary candidate’s wife is murdered DI Dixon soon finds himself back in action and investigating quite a murky case.

This next installment of the Nick Dixon mystery series is a far longer book than the previous offerings. I enjoyed the fact the plot was equally a fair bit more convoluted and there were a few more moving parts than I recall there being in the previous books. I was surprised that for much of the first quarter or so of the story Nick was suspended and so it was his girlfriend and colleague Jane, and another DI, Janice, who worked the main murder mystery case. While I did enjoy this very different aspect to the story, I wondered a few times what other readers might think of the focus of the story being very much not on Nick as the main character, but very much sitting idly by and not really involved at all.

I was also a bit surprised that Nick’s cold case really took a back seat once he was reinstated and immediately took over the murder of the politician’s wife. At no stage did I think Nick had forgotten about it or that he wouldn’t return to it, but there was a large section of the book where it clearly wasn’t his focus and while I understood this it also didn’t feel very good to me.

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed this strong police procedural story. I enjoyed seeing a few more characters and actually hope to see more of the other DI Janice in later books. The pace of this story is fairly slow – readers looking for a heavily action orientated style of novel won’t find that here – but for more classic British style who-dun-it and police mystery novels should really find this a well written and exceptionally well plotted story. I was also pretty happy that the book stood very well on its own. I don’t believe any of the prior novels in this series need to be read to really enjoy this book.

An interesting and well plotted murder mystery, this is a great book, and I am eager to read the next.

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