Written by Lee Weeks — A book cover that bears the legend ‘Will an East End feud lead to murder?’ smacks of Martina Cole – and fans of that author are sure to enjoy the work of Lee Weeks.
They share the same love of extreme violence (prepare yourself for the Colombian necktie and Strappado, to name but two of the gory forms of torture featured in Cold Killers), although Weeks is a little lighter on the bad language count and there’s precious little in the way of sex scenes.
The story begins as the East End’s criminal fraternity gather at a flashy funeral. The dead man is Eddie Butcher, one of four brothers from a notorious East End family who has met a nasty end which included the aforementioned Colombian necktie. His peers are about to send him off in particularly over-the-top fashion, while the police keep a close eye on proceedings.
Specifically, they’re on the lookout for Tony Butcher a resident of the Costa del Crime who is wanted for robbery, drug trafficking and perhaps even murder. He’s been on their most wanted list for years but always manages to escape arrest, and he and DI Dan Carter have past history…
Carter and his sidekick DS Ebony ‘Eb’ Willis of the Met’s Major Investigation Team 17 are at the heart of this story, the good guys fighting for right against a particularly nasty set of baddies. Top of the shop is Tony Butcher, an evil, half-mad monstrosity whose mother, Sandra, can give him a run for his money. The other two surviving Butcher brothers, Harold and Lawrence, are also a pair of nasties and then there’s Marco, who has close ties with the Colombian cartel and a stomach-churning array of ways to get what he wants.
Add in Della, widow of Eddie, who has a plan to bring down the family that is now out to get her, Inspector David Ross of the National Crime Agency Organised Crime Command, and a particularly imaginative way of bringing cocaine into the country and you have the makings of a cracking good read. Sadly, it just doesn’t seem to pan out that way.
In short, there’s nothing very out of the ordinary here and if you’re expecting tortuous twists and tricksy plotting you’re likely to be disappointed. The dialogue is stilted and unrealistic and the author’s love of using several short sentences instead of running them together with the judicious use of a comma or conjunction makes for a frustrating, stop-start read.
I also wonder about some of the schoolboy errors which crept past the editors and proofreaders – sacred instead of scared; helmets with ‘visas’ and the continual misuse of slithers when the author means slivers are just three jarring examples.
Cold Killers is the fifth novel to feature Carter and Willis and sits quite happily as a standalone. It’s a book that will help to pass the time on a long train journey or while away the hours on a holiday sun lounger but it is not a story that’s destined to stay in the memory for very long.
Simon & Schuster
CFL Rating: 3 Stars