Previous reviews are at Mack Pitches Up

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The White Gallows by Rob Kitchen

IndePenPress, 2010. 322 pages.

Author web site, The View from the Blue House
Promo trailer for The White Gallows

This review is based on a ARC of the book which will be available 12 June 2010.

Detective Superintendent Colm McEvoy returns in The White Gallows, a traditional detective/police procedural. It's been six months since the events described in the The Rule Book and the hunt for the serial killer, The Raven, is stalled. Unfortunately for McEvoy, there is no relaxing and, if anything, he is more beleaguered than during the Raven case. The economic downturn has reduced the ranks of guarda, straining McEvoy's capability to effectively manage investigations
People are being killed faster than we can investigate them. We're at full stretch McEvoy says to the chief pathologist, Elaine Jones.

With two murders, a scam artist who drove a man to suicide on the loose, and a major case coming to trial, the last thing McEvoy needs is another case, especially one involving the death of elderly German billionaire, Albert Koch. The family and his personal physician are anxious to have a ruling of death by natural causes but an observant local sergeant thinks something isn't right. With his superior pressuring him to wrap the case up right away and the family of Koch stonewalling his efforts, McEvoy persists in his thorough investigation. He begins to uncover anomalies in the victims past that, unfortunately, increases his pool of suspects.

I enjoy a good police procedural. The interviews, the research, sifting evidence, spotting inconsistencies, making connections, the false leads, all make for a satisfying read. The story is also realistic in that detectives are seldom handling only one case and here we experience the frustration of McEvoy to allocate already stretched resources and monitor and advise his detectives assigned to other cases. When McEvoy makes a mistake he is still following a logical line of inquiry; I had no "What! No police officer would do that" moments.

The story moves at a good pace though perhaps too good. I found myself, late at night, setting up elaborate conditions under which I would stop reading, e.g. I will read until there is a section break that occurs on an even page number unless I am within 5 pages of the end of the chapter. You'd be surprised how long you can prolong a reading session this way.

Rob's two books are populated with good solid characters, even the ones you dislike, and I can see at least one being developed more fully and taking on a different role in Rob's next book. I appreciate the depth given to McEvoy. Here is a man trying to do good police work with superiors who have no love for him and at the same time trying to deal with the memories of his late wife and not doing very good at providing a stable home life for his daughter. The level of tension hits 11 at times. I hope that the next books sees McEvoy getting a good meal and a good night's sleep.

The White Gallows is another excellent contribution to crime fiction from Rob Kitchen. Highly recommended if you like police procedurals and traditional detective stories.