Ghost Virus (DC Jerry Pardoe and DS Jamila Patel #1), by Graham Masterton

Eight stars

New to the world of Graham Masterton, I was eager to accept a recommendation to see if it were for me. I love a dark thriller, especially when mixed with a police procedural, as they usually have me thinking well into the night while I cannot sleep. I was not disappointed with this series debut and am eager to read the next. It all begins with a young woman who took a bottle of acid and poured it over her head. DC Jerry Pardoe and DS Jamila Patel commence their investigation, curious to discover that it might have something to do with a jacket that she had purchased from a charity shop. Then, more odd murders occur, seemingly tied to items of clothing, leaving the detectives baffled. Is there something going on that could relate to these items or clothing, or is it something a little more mystical? Pardoe and Patel will have to carefully work their way through the evidence to find a plausible solution. Masterton pens a great thriller that leaves the reader thirsting for more.

A young woman is apprehensive about her upcoming arranged marriage, but is making the most of it. While gazing into the mirror, Samira pours a bottle of acid over her head, ruining her beautiful face and eventually killing her from the shock. What could have made her do this? DC Jerry Pardoe and DS Jamila Patel of Tooting Police are given the task to investigate the apparent crime, wondering if it might be an honour killing. However, what they discover is something entirely odd and out of sorts.

After a pathological investigation, there are odd fibres found on Samira’s back, ones that resemble a jacket found in the house. The detectives trace the item back to a charity shop, but nothing comes of it. When other odd events occur, including: a wife killing her husbad, a school teacher killing students, and a man who dismembers his significant other before eating her, Pardoe and Patel begin to wonder if there is some supernatural aspect to the crimes, all tied to various articles of clothing. Nothing else makes sense, even if it means they will be laughed out of the station. What does arise in each case is that the perpetrator denies being themselves, but rather another person entirely. Is this a case of dual identity? If so, things just got a lot more complicated.

With more crimes taking place, brutal and without explanation, DC Pardoe and DS Patel begin to work outside the box to get to the heart of the matter. The connection seems to be articles of clothing from charity shops, but that does not make sense. Could it be that the items of clothing are responsible? While Totting Police are baffled, answers may rest with a ruthless gang leader on the other side of town. Masterton weaves a dark tale that will have readers hooked until the final revelation, which only makes things more confusing.

Book recommendations can be a perfect way to expand one’s knowledge of what is out there for all to enjoy. I have had a great deal of success, as well as some epic failures, when I let others push books in a certain direction. Discovering Graham Masterton was definitely a great addition to my reading pile, mixing his love for detailed and dark stories with a strong police procedural. Masterton balances both genres well and has the reader on the trail of a killer, or at least a reason for this horrific crimes. I’m hooked and cannot wait to get to the next book, in hopes of being just as impressed

Sharing the protagonist role is DC Jerry Pardoe and DS Jamila Patel. While the novel focuses less on backstory than development, Masterton offers a great deal about each of them to develop strong leadership roles. There are issues of race, culture, and modern relations within one of England’s cities. Both Pardoe and Patel grow closer to one another in their own ways, working the case as best they can to find answers, even if none of it makes sense. There is a lot to digest her and other characters who emerge throughout the novel enhance the story in numerous ways.

While horror novels are a dime a dozen, developing something that has the reader squirm but feels is not simply graphic is much harder. Graham Masterton does well to provide a chilling horror theme with a strong police procedural to keep the reader entertained and curious throughout. There is a great deal here to keep the reader engaged, particularly since the narrative flows with such ease. Well-developed characters provide glimpses into the various aspects of the crime, some darker than others, and keep the reader wanting to know more. Plot lines weave together as the story gains momentum, forcing the reader to wonder how things will come together before the climactic ending. I love something that is dark, yet has some reason for being somewhat graphic, as it reminds me that not all crimes are simplistic, as well as cut and dry. I cannot wait to see what DC Pardoe and DS Patel have waiting them in the next novel.

Kudos, Mr. Masterton, for this unique take on a crime thriller. I will be recommending this book to many, hoping that the series will receive the same praise.