Perfect Prey (D.I. Callanach #2), by Helen Fields

Nine stars

Helen Fields returns with an equally powerful follow-up novel that places Detective Inspector Luc Callanach in the centre of a truly baffling crime. When a murder is reported at a summer music festival in Edinburgh, D.I. Callanach is happy to take the lead in order to find the killer. However, the limited witness statements and video footage of use from the event leaves Callanach unsure of how to proceed. Soon thereafter, a piece of vandalism emerges, perhaps a reaction to the crime, as if the world needs a permanent memory of this summer crime. When a primary school teacher and librarian are murdered in short order, D.I. Callanach learns that they, too, are being listed on graffiti around town. An online journalist receives telling information that opens the investigation wide. Could these ‘tags’ have been made beforehand, as a precursor to the crimes? Also, with each crime being vastly different, might there be more than one killer on the loose, working in tandem? Callanach continues to struggle and turns to his fellow D.I., Ava Turner, whose past friendship with him seems to be clouding his judgment about what might follow for them. While Turner does not appear to feel anything romantic towards Callanach, the story’s protagonist stumbles trying to make sense of his feelings while a major murder case continues to haunt him. Turning to an unlikely source, Callanach takes to the world of coding and digital breadcrumbs, which causes many issues with other branches of Police Scotland. With the killer (or killers) continuing the rampage, Callanach must use all the resources at his disposal to stop the bloodshed, and pinpoint who might be the next victim. Fields has done it again, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat while pulling on a variety of approaches to allow the case to progress. Fans of police procedurals and crime thrillers will surely find something worthwhile in this novel, as well as the debut, which lays the groundwork for the complex life of D.I. Luc Callanach.

I recently discovered Helen Fields and am pleased to be able to promote her work here, which is a definite jolt of fresh air in a supersaturated genre. D.I. Callanach continues to present himself as a dedicated copper, though one who struggles with life outside the office. Choosing to throw himself into his work, Callanach seems keen on tracking down all the leads in his murder investigations, but is not able to pick up on the most subtle nuances in his personal life. He struggles with the stigma that chased him from INTERPOL while still trying to assert his rightful place in Police Scotland. The ongoing work and personal banter with D.I. Ava Turner takes on a new level of intrigue, something fans of the debut novel may enjoy, though it does tend to cloud the plot at times. Fields continues to use a strong cast of secondary characters to propel the story forward and uses a more veiled approach when dealing with the antagonist, the person pulling the strings on this murder spree. The story itself is strong and pulls on some genuinely intriguing technology to decipher the larger set of crimes, but also pushes the Luddite ‘tag’ system of graffiti, which caters to readers of all backgrounds. The reader can rest assured that there is not a textbook full of ‘techie’ language to cause confusion, though Fields does not dilute the form of crime fighting when necessary. I found myself unable to stop listening to the book at certain points, as the story captivated me until the very end. I will have to wait patiently until mid-January to get my hands on the third novel, but rest assured I will not let it collect much dust on by TBR list, for I am just that eager to sink my teeth into the next instalment of D.I. Luc Callanach and his unique style of crime investigation.

Kudos, Madam Fields, for keeping me hooked yet again. You are certainly one author that many should take note of and push other TBR novels aside to delve into this series.

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