Idle Hands (DS Jamie Johansson #3), by Morgan Greene

Eight stars

Having devoured the opening two novel in this series, I was eager to get my hands on the third, deemed the final of the ‘prequel trilogy’ by Morgan Greene. This book matches the others with a strong story and more captivating characters. Working on threads from the past books and a new case, Greene is able to pull readers in with more from DS Jamie Johansson.

Still reeling from the fallout in the last book, DS Johansson is left with an injured partner and many questions about who could have tipped off the smugglers to the intended raid. While there are some whispers about an inside job, it is hard to finger members of the London Met without major blowback.

If this were not enough to keep her busy, Jamie has decided to move, worried that her stalker—serial killer, Elliot Day—may return to cause her more havoc. Working during off-hours, she and a few helpful hands are able to secretly put her into a new abode, hopefully that no one will be the wiser.

DS Johansson is soon called to the scene of a crime, with her interim partner, Captain Nasir Hassan. They discover the body of a young woman whose hands have been severed. She appears to have been busking on the London streets, though this is no dime store violin in a case. It is antique and has been kept up. Witnesses mention having seen someone in passing, though no one saw the murder.

Using some of the added resources within the Met, Johansson and Hassan learn that the victim is none other than Alyssa Doran, who sits as first chair in her college orchestra. Her abilities with the violin sound magical, though she does not come across as anyone worthy of murder, or having her hands removed. A little digging helps Johnasson and Hassan learn more about the cut throat world of orchestras, though the primary suspect cannot be located, the new first chair.

When not only the aforementioned first chair goes missing, but the orchestra’s conductor is found murdered, Johansson and Hassan discover that there is more to the story they do not yet know. It appears the crime may not be victim specific, but more to do with the sanctity of her hands. Are there other murder victims out there with missing hands? Could this, perhaps, provide some needed clues?

Just as things are getting heated at work, Johnasson is visited by none other than Elliot Day. He brings a message and proof that no amount of secrecy will keep him from her. Jamie is walking a fine line and has yet to tell anyone that he’s back, which only furthers the sense of danger that envelops her.

A killer’s on the loose, Day lurks in the shadows with an ongoing obsession to help her in his own, sick way. Will this be one killer who can lull more victims into a sense of protection, or can he be plucked up before the vibrations of his kills resonate with the general public?

Morgan Greene remains a natural storyteller, using strong writing alongside some well-developed characters to provide an addictive read. All novels in this prequel series served to keep me pushing ahead and reading well into the night, leaving me wanting even more

DS Jamie Johansson remains a powerful protagonist, blossoming throughout the story. She remains a young detective, but Johansson has great passion her father passed along. The attentive reader will see how she struggles to handle the three plots that have come up in this story, leaving her little time for personal growth. Greene effectively shapes her into a character many will want to see grow as the novels continue. If rumours I have heard prove true, there is a lot to come for Johansson in the coming years!

Greene develops his supporting cast effectively, pulling on many walks fo life to keep the reader highly entertained. This police procedural blends some of the unresolved cases from the past with a new and equally horrible one, mixing people from all three novels. With a focus on music and its dark underbelly, Greene develops some characters specific to the genre, some of whom work well with Johansson, as others clash in the best possible way.

This was a great third novel, tying off some of the ‘prequel threads’ Greene presented. An author worth noting, Greene shows much confidence as the story builds. There is great action and a well-balanced set of cases. Exploring London from yet another angle, Greene offers something not soon forgotten. Longer chapters pull the reader in with much plot development, alongside a few teasers to keep the reader forging ahead. I have high hopes that some of the less developed aspects of the story emerge later in Greene’s work, as his ability to offer a cliffhanger or two has me wanting to rush back as soon as I can.

Kudos, Mr. Greene, for another winner. Where will you take DS Jamie Johansson next, is surely all the buzz amongst your fans!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: