Written by Steven Dunne — Detective Inspector Damen Brook of Derby CID is back, with a new case and a new set of troubles. An old couple are found dead in their house, in a quiet Derby suburb. Holding hands, both are smartly dressed, their favourite piece of music playing in the background, a recently consumed bottle of champagne nearby in what appears to have been a celebration of their lives. And both have been shot neatly through the heart. No signs of a struggle, no signs of the killer.
Brook has been handed the investigation, taking over from a colleague, DI Ford, who’s on the cusp of retirement. Ford had been investigating a similar and earlier murder. A gay couple were found murdered in similar, but slightly different, circumstances. The same celebratory arrangement, the same mode of death, but no music and no evident champagne. Ford had taken that case off on a tangent, deciding the murderer was a homophobe despite there being no evidence to it being a hate killing.
Brook, however, is on leave in the Peak District, spending time with his daughter who was, until recently, estranged. She has major problems of her own, surviving abuse my her stepfather. Brook’s issue is that he cannot switch off.
In parallel Brook’s sidekick, DS Noble, is looking at another murder. A wealthy couple called the Thorogoods were seemingly killed their son, Ray, so that he could claim his inheritance. The trouble was that his elder sister, Reardon, stood in the way. So Ray arranged for a couple of old school mates JJ (an ex-boyfriend of Reardon’s) and Luke (a loner who’d had a crush on Reardon) to murder everyone, leaving Luke to take the fall. But events didn’t go to plan and Luke was arrested. Ray fled the country, never to be seen again but without getting his hands on the money.
This is the sixth book in the series, which began with The Reaper, and as usual Brook rubs his colleagues up the wrong way in his attempts to find the murderer. Noble sits on his shoulder trying to keep his boss on the straight and narrow, while Brook fights his demons. Death Do Us Part feels like a step on from Dunne’s previous novel, A Killing Moon which was a great read. This is the real deal, a polished and clever police procedural.
The key to the story is the pairing of main protagonists, Brook and Noble. Brook is the out-of-towner, transferred to Derby several years ago after a case went wrong. The author reveals just enough of Brook’s past – such as the mental scarring from chasing a serial killer, The Reaper – to demonstrate the internal damage without making him seem ridiculous. He has more than a tendency to speak his mind and isn’t concerned with ruffling feathers to get the job done. His objective is to find the killer before they strike again and if a few noses get put out of joint, so be it. Brook is a workaholic, a behaviour which continues to affect his personal life. However, the author has paired Brook with the able and sensible Sergeant Noble, a foil to the at times slashing Inspector. Noble is like Brook’s conscience and, importantly, as equally adept at moving cases along.
You can find the review of A Killing Moon here, and an interview with Steven Dunne here.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars