Written by AD Davies — His First His Second is the self-published debut crime novel from AD Davies. Set in and around the Yorkshire city of Leeds, the book is an intriguing mix of police procedural and serial killer thriller, that will tease, involve and unnerve you.
The story opens in chilling fashion as young woman Katie orientates herself in sinister surroundings after being abducted, and discovers she is not the sole prisoner of the anonymous captor. She comes face to face with another girl, who resembles her completely – a girl who refuses to acknowledge her presence.
We then cut to a murder scene where a young woman’s body is discovered at the edge of a lake, and DI Donald Murphy and the kooky DS Alicia Friend are introduced. As the links between this discovery and the disappearance of Katie emerge, Murphy and Friend become totally immersed personally and professionally in the hunt for a kidnapping murderer. This is where it all gets rather interesting as Friend embarks on a less than professional entanglement with Katie’s father, Richard, who is not all he appears to be. The introduction of ex-FBI agent Alfie Khee – who has focused in on a killer operating in England, one he believes responsible for the murder of his wife – adds a further dimension to the plot. There are also rum goings-on among the upper classes, with the disappearance of a poor little rich girl from a family that will make your toes curl.
Yes, the plot is dense and attention must be paid to these almost conflicting storylines as the book progresses, but it enriches the reading experience as your attention is pulled hither and thither. At certain points early on a small leap of faith is required for the more outlandish plot turns to work, but it all adds to the fun. With a host of interweaving and engaging plot strands there is a playful feel at times as Davies attempts to wrong foot and challenge us, which works very well indeed.
However, the real strength of the book lies in his two police protagonists, who seem tailor made to carry on into further stories. The tactful and slightly careworn demeanour of DI Murphy is beautifully counterbalanced by the earnest, slightly weird and flirtatious Alicia Friend. On secondment to Murphy’s team from the Serious Crime Agency, her natural intelligence and intuition, masked by her outwardly scatty behaviour, proves a perfect foil to her more dour boss. She is instantly likeable and the her quirky character traits and all too human fallibility make her enjoyable to read. She’s like a cat torturing a mouse when dealing with the slower members of the murder team, but this is tempered throughout by moments of weakness and indecision that arouse empathy.
Davies uses Friend’s perceptive reading of the criminal mind as a conduit to involve us intimately in the less than appealing psychological aspects of the serial killer. Here is an author who has done his homework on not only the psyche of a killer, but also the day to day running of a British criminal investigation, and the inner workings of the FBI. It’s fascinating stuff and Davies’ research blends in seamlessly with the overall plot.
His First His Second is an entertaining and intriguing debut. Though the denouement is slightly weird, the closely controlled plotlines and the delicious character of Alicia Friend make for a highly enjoyable read. What we can say about Davies is that his first was good, and I am more than keen to see his second…
CFL Rating: 4 Stars