Written by Luke Delaney — We reviewers at Crime Fiction Lover get through a fair few books as the months pass by. And recently, there have been some recurring themes… Trust me, there are only so many times that you can run a fresh eye over tales of women held captive in dark cellars, children snatched by madmen and police officers battling their own inner demons. Or are there? On second thoughts, scratch the last two, because Luke Delaney is back in town!
Delaney’s creation DI Sean Corrigan is certainly a tortured soul – and who wouldn’t be after what he had to endure in Cold Killing and The Keeper, both of which we’ve already reviewed? He took a bullet in his last print outing, and only now is he getting back to full strength. In fact, he’s itching to get back into the swing of things but there hasn’t been a crime serious enough for Sean and his team to tackle. They’re all chomping at the bit, looking for action. But be careful what you wish for, because when a new case does come along, it’s like nothing they’ve ever experienced before.
A child has been snatched from his bed in the dead of night while the rest slept in blissful ignorance. The perpetrator is skilled with lockpicks and appears to have prior knowledge of the house, its layout, and the fact that the alarm system is awaiting repair. But why has he taken little George Bridgeman, and how did he do it without waking anyone else from their slumber?
On the strength of Corrigan’s previous successes, his team has been moved to New Scotland Yard and given a fancy new title. He’s also directly responsible to Assistant Commissioner Addis, a career pen-pusher who demands results – and fast. But Sean’s usual skill at getting into the mind of the criminal he is seeking seems to have deserted him, and when good old fashioned detective work throws up the name of a likely suspect, he jumps in with both feet. But is this really the man he is seeking? The answer to that question becomes crystal clear when another child is snatched under very similar circumstances while the prime suspect is in custody.
Has Sean lost his mojo? Addis certainly seems to think so and is seriously rethinking his decision to nail his colours to Corrigan’s mast when child number three disappears – and the Special Investigation Unit is no closer to getting their man.
Luke Delaney is a former Met detective and certainly has the inside line on police procedures. His books differ in that we are also offered glimpses of what it is like to be an investigating officer on an horrific case. The reader is allowed behind the mask to see the insecurities and doubts that plague every member of the team as the case progresses, and it gives the plot an extra veneer of humanity. The Toy Taker is a story told from both sides of the fence, as you also follow the child snatcher on his forays into unsuspecting family homes in London’s affluent suburbs. As we gradually learn his motives, we may even feel a grudging sympathy for this shadowy figure.
This is my third meeting with Sean Corrigan, and it’s the best so far. Previously, I was a not entirely convinced by the man and his skill. In showing us his frailties, Luke Delaney has fleshed Corrigan out to create a lead character like no other. To sum up, be prepared for an ebb and flow of emotions as you’re guided through a well-crafted plot which grabs the attention from the very first page.
The Toy Taker is released on 13 February.
CFL Rating: 5 Stars