A Killing Moon

akillingmoon200Written by Steven Dunne — It’s the end of term, Christmas is coming. Derby University student Caitlin Kinnear heads out for heavy night on the town before heading back to Ireland the next day for the break. But after leaving her friend in the bar she’d been propping up Caitlin doesn’t make it home. The trouble is she seems to have disappeared of her own accord and the police aren’t even sure there’s a case to pursue.

But when DI Damen Brook of Derby CID is faced with investigating Kinnear or undertaking a public scrap metal initiative Brook chooses the former. When the corpse of a young woman turns up in a burned out van Brook and his sidekick DS John Noble start pulling harder on the thread. They find a number of other young women have also gone missing in similar circumstances, all migrants or visitors from other countries who just seem to have picked up their stuff and left one day, never to return. Every one was reported as a missing person, but the police are unable to follow up on them.

Soon Brook and Noble believe a local barman, Jake, is involved somehow in the murder. He and his mentally challenged brother have gone missing. Jake used to work at a bar owned by shady Polish businessman Gregorz. Then there’s Gregorz’s handyman brother, Max, and a clinic where abortions are carried out with an aggressive pro-life group protesting outside on a daily basis, harassing all who enter and leave. When the charred corpse from the van is identified, Brook and Noble realise they must move quickly if they are to solve the case before others die…

This is the fifth in Dunne’s DI Brook series. Does that matter? Not really. There are a couple of references to previous adventures, but A Killing Moon operates admirably as a stand alone. This is a cleverly constructed, highly intelligent and multi-layered police procedural that keeps you guessing right until the very end.

There are multiple attributes that set A Killing Moon aside from others in this genre. First there are the characters and the interplay between them. Brook is, like many other protagonists in crime novels, a damaged man who stands up to his superiors. But there’s something more to him, something intangible and just out of reach. Dunne plays with us here, showing us snippets without revealing the lot. Then there’s DS Noble. He plays a major part in the investigation with the pair bouncing off each other, learning and developing as a duo. It isn’t one person doing all the heavy lifting with the rest following in their wake. Smartly done. The supporting cast are equally strong, the Polish brothers each with his own issues and desires and Jake, the young man who’s talented and intelligent but must constantly look out for his brother.

Next is the story itself. Alongside Brook and Noble’s investigation is a separate narrative with Caitlin trying to understand the reasons for her captivity. It succeeds in adding tension but in parallel it delivers another layer of mystery. It’s clearly connected to the investigation, but how? And why?

Finally throughout the reading of A Killing Moon the lyrics of the Echo & The Bunnymen song will rattle around your head. A perfect backdrop for a top drawer police procedural, if you like that band.

The hardcover and Kindle versions of A Killing Moon came out in May, and the paperback is due in the middle of August. We’ve previously reviewed Deity, the third Damen Brook novel, and interviewed Steven Dunne here.

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CFL Rating: 5 Stars

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