Author: Daniel Cole
Rating: 5 Stars
Dates read: 18 Mar 18 – 22 Mar 18
Publication date: 22 Mar 2018
Genre(s): Thriller, Crime, Detective,
How do you catch a killer who’s already dead?’
Eighteen months have passed, but the scars the Ragdoll murders left behind remain.
DCI Emily Baxter is summoned to a meeting with US Special Agents Elliot Curtis of the FBI and Damien Rouche of the CIA. There, she is presented with photographs of the latest copycat murder: a body contorted into a familiar pose, strung up impossibly on the other side of the world, the word BAIT carved deep into its chest.
As the media pressure intensifies, Baxter is ordered to assist with the investigation and attend the scene of another murder to discover the same word scrawled across the victim, carved across the corpse of the killer – PUPPET.
As the murders continue to grow in both spectacle and depravity on both sides of the Atlantic, the team helplessly play catch up. Their only hope: to work out who the ‘BAIT’ is intended for, how the ‘PUPPETS’ are chosen but, most importantly of all, who is holding the strings.
I received an e-ARC of this book courtesy of Trapeze/Orion Publishing and Net Galley in return for a fair and honest review.
Let me start by saying how much I loved the first book in this series, Ragdoll was an addictive fast-paced thriller, and if I am honest, I was worried that this book wouldn’t live up to the outstanding start to this trilogy. I reviewed it in full here, but have to say it was refreshing to read a book that wasn’t predictable, yet hung together plausibly. Again, just like that review, I really don’t want to spoil it, so please enjoy, read the book, and appreciate that the lack of detail is intentional!
Cole has most definitely done it again with this one! The writing style of this guy is insanely readable, and makes for a truly page-turning read. Unlike the previous instalment, this book doesn’t solely take place on UK soil, but hops across the Atlantic for some New York action, complete with CIA and FBI involvement.
Baxter is definitely back, and promoted, and is as entertaining and awesome as ever. Wolf, after the events of the first book, is not really featured too much (I won’t say more for fear or spoiling the first) and as much as I liked him in the first instalment, I didn’t miss him. Edmunds takes a more back seat role, featured more over phone conversations and short meetings. His friendship with Baxter has evolved and solidified to make them best friends in every sense (to the chagrin of his suffering partner Tia) and their trust and reliance on one another is a backbone of the story.
So, with these two taking a back seat, the story centres mostly around Baxter and her trans-Atlantic efforts to catch another murderer. Helping her are two officers from the USA, Rouche from the CIA and Curtis from the FBI. Barely going by their first names, Damien Rouche is a laid back and enigmatic character (who is possibly my favourite of this novel) whose dedication is unquestionable yet motives unclear. He is the butt of every name mis-pronunciation joke (it’s Rouche like whoosh guys!), but is capable and follows Baxter in bending rules, and drinking more than they should. Elliot Curtis is much more straight laced and by the book. She is wary of the other two, but helps them as much as Lennox (her boss) will permit. She is hard working, and doesn’t like to follow the less conventional path Rouche and Baxter set, which probably helps them stay on the straight and narrow(ish).
One thing that Cole does so well is write strong, normal, independent female characters. The men are as reliant on the women as the women are on the men. I have as much faith in the female characters to get the job done without it feeling forced, or the point of the piece. Many of the superior female character are women which is rare in a thriller, a rarity I am happy has been embraced. Yes, Baxter’s boyfriend is a welp, but he fits well with her and embraces her in a way other writers would not have pursued.
The events in this book are somewhat unbelievable. I don’t want to say that they’re farcical or impossible, but I’d like to think that the events couldn’t logistically happen as they do. That said, we’re witness to some truly horrendous crimes that, in a world of terrorist atrocities and murder, really make you think about the lengths that people will go to but also how we and others cope in the wake of such events. I’m not sure if the bodies could or would be found where they are, or that the timelines and happenings could quite occur as they do, but they’re written in such a way that it makes complete plausible sense in the context of the narrative, and is so gripping.
I, once again, don’t think I predicted the ending as it happened. It’s so refreshing to have a story that makes sense, yet hasn’t been spoon fed to the point that it removes all thought. Cole relies on you retaining information and making necessary links for yourself, something that should be applauded in the modern day world of churned out thrillers. I read the last half of this book excitedly in 24hrs, I really struggled to tear myself away long enough to do something else, and declare it an absolute must read! It came out today, so pick up a copy!!
I can’t wait for book 3 in this trilogy!!