Ragdoll (DS William Fawkes #1), by Daniel Cole

Seven stars

Daniel Cole emerges on the scene with this thought-provoking debut thriller that will have readers wondering until the very end. Detective Sergeant William Fawkes has recently returned to the Metropolitan Police Force after a significant absence. After one of his cases—the Cremation Killer—went to trial and the accused was found not guilty, Fawkes took measures into his own hands. The loss still haunts him and he feels the pain of it every day. When his colleagues are called to a murder scene close to his home, Fawkes is curious what’s turned up. What they discover is as sadistic as it is curious; a body of parts sewn together to create a single whole. Fawkes is pulled into the middle, hoping to identify the various parts and discover if they are other murder victims. When Fawkes’ ex-wife, a journalist, receives a list of future murders and dates they will be completed, everyone takes notice. Most interesting of all, Fawkes is listed as the final victim, a fortnight away. The team rushes to locate the potential victims and provide protection, though this killer is conniving and has a way around all the usual measures that are taken. With each passing day, another victim is that much closer to being crossed off the list, including Fawkes, who has no clear idea what awaits him. This might be one killer who cannot be stopped until the ultimate revenge has been accomplished. Cole offers up a wonderful story that keeps the reader’s attention throughout. Solving the crime is only half the battle and those who enjoy the genre ought to give this one a try.

I enjoy new authors who wish to elbow their way onto the scene in sensational fashion. Daniel Cole does just that, though there are some who surely cannot stomach his work. I’ve always said that not all books are to the liking of everyone, which does not diminish either the book or the reader. In this instance, Cole seeks to pull William Fawkes into the middle of this story and show his merit. Fawkes is a man who is addled with guilt for past failures while also being determined to get to the root of the case, no matter its level of difficulty. He does not like to ‘colour in the lines’, but does seem to get results, even when things seem hopeless. This could be both his greatest asset and most significant downfall. Others around him help create a tension-filled experience, working in unison at times or providing firm roadblocks around which Fawkes will have to navigate. Cases such as these require a strong villain, one who can fan the flames and keep the reader wondering what awaits them as the narrative continues. The sensational discovery of the ‘rag doll’ is surely something that hooked the reader, though it is the intricacies surrounding the various victims makes for an interesting sub-plot. The story is decent and flows well, though there are times when things become slow and some readers (mentioned above) may have chosen to bow out when the going got rough. Still, there is significant intrigue, which kept me wanting to push forward to discover how it all ‘stitched’ itself together. Cole has done well to lay the groundwork for an interesting series and I will read the follow-up novel to see how things progress with Fawkes and the rest of the Metropolitan crew.

Kudos, Mr. Cole, for this wonderful debut. You’ve received a great deal of hype and I can see how many have come to love you work. I am eager to see if the second novel is as exciting as this one became.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons