Ragdoll by Daniel Cole
One body. Six victims.
A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together, nicknamed by the press as the ‘Ragdoll’. Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.
The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them. With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?
Wow! This book is a pretty stunning debut novel from someone who clearly understands what makes a fast paced thriller really sing. I had trouble putting this down once I had picked it up and I was held by it all the way through to the end.
It’s gory, but with humour. It’s inventive in the way that it depicts the murders and the chief protagonist Detective William Oliver Layton Fawkes, (Wolf) has a great backstory. He is a driven but damaged detective who is regarded as a lone Wolf (sic) by his colleagues.
We meet Wolf on the eve of the verdict of the ‘Cremation Killer’ trial at the Old Bailey. The trial has lasted 46 days and involved 27 female victims. Wolf has put everything on the line for this one and once the trial is over he commits an act of folly so great that it jeopardises his whole career.
Fast forward to four years later a demoted and demoralised Wolf is divorced from his journalist wife and living in a dodgy bedsit in Kentish Town when he gets a call from his boss to tell him about a grisly murder very close to his home.
His colleague, D.S. Emily Baxter, herself a complex mixture of flaws and emotions, takes great delight in pointing out to him that the body suspended from the ceiling is comprised of parts taken from 6 victims and roughly stitched together. The head belongs to someone Wolf knows only too well, but even more worryingly, one of the arms is pointing directly into Wolf’s bedroom window.
From here the story takes on a life of its own. The hunt for the killer can only be successful if the police understand what links the killings – what do all these people have in common? And when a list emerges of the next to die – and the dates on which their deaths will occur – it is surely no coincidence that the list is sent to Wolf’s ex-wife, a journalist on a sensationalist TV channel.
Wolf’s name is the last on the list and as the body count rises, will the police uncover the killer before the end of the list is reached?
I loved this book. It is fast paced, engaging, with good characterisation, intelligent twists and kept me interested throughout. I liked the Wolf character, flawed and driven and his colleagues Baxter and Edmunds were also well drawn and interesting. Highly recommended.
Ragdoll is published by Trapeze on 16th February 2017