Wednesday 9 February 2022

Sweet Briar Rose - Alex Smith - DCI Kett Book 8.0

Sweet Briar Rose
DCI Kett Crime Thrillers Book 8.0
Zertex Crime
ISBN 9781913877071

It took me a while to start this book. Work and family life was busy. I had preordered it and the eBook dropped on release day. I just did not have the time to dedicate to it. Once I started I could hardly put it down, and I worked my way through it over 4 evenings. 

This is quite the story and a surprising continuation of the Kett saga. This book was in a very different way. Kett is back on the job, he is part of a new team the Norfolk Constabulary’s Extreme Crime Task Force. It is a great story and immensely intriguing. There are several surprising twists in this tale and something very much unexpected.

If you have been fallowing the saga of DCI Kett this book is a must read. If you happen to be a fan of rough and tough action you will almost certainly enjoy this novel. And the other books in the series. This is the ninth of the DCI Kett stories that I have read, the seventh novel, and Kett made a brief appearance in The Harder They Fall, the first of the Softley Series of books. A previous volume, Whip Crack, makes reference to Six Days, Six Hours, Six Minutes, which is by far the darkest and grittiest of Smith’s mystery thriller novels. But this one is pretty close.  All of his mysteries link together in some fashion. Very intense action and an even stranger feel. Kett is back on the job and they have a body to investigate almost immediately.

That body is found bound in thorns is discovered in Norwich’s historic Cow Tower. They find a severed finger in her mouth it is wrapped in a scrap of red cloth, and had the first few lines of a fairy tale.

“Once upon a time, a young maiden waited to be saved from a hideous monster.”

The finger belongs to another missing girl. DCI Kett along with Porter and Savage need to find her and to do so they follow a chain of blood-drenched riddles, each victim leading to the next and each crime more horrific than the last. They soon know that there are 4 victims planned, and all are already missing. They are being given 24 hours to find each of them. 

The murderer likes to play games, leave hints. Include traps. And lead them on a chaise through, in and around the city. This new task force needs to pull this case out of the fire. Some videos of the team and other constables trying to arrest a man cause a media stir. And the team is threatened with being disbanded even before they finish their first case. Clare states at the beginning of the book:

““Things are going to shit out there,” Clare continued, his brash voice echoing off the walls. “People are getting worse. Crime is getting worse. We’ve seen it ourselves, with Stillwater and Percival and Figg and those newspaper girls. With the Bad Dog case, with Kett and his pig-faced bogeyman. With those poor young men sacrificed on the stones. And with the trafficking ring you all broke open earlier this year. These are cases we might have seen once a decade, but this has all been in the space of a year and change. I don’t know what’s going on but I do know that we are the thin blue line that stands between monsters like that and the good, decent people of this county and this country.””

And also:

““I debated for a long time about whether to set up a unit like this,” the Superintendent went on. “A unit with the power and the authority to go after the very worst of humankind. But I know now that we have no choice. I said it to you before, that sometimes in order to catch a monster, you have to send a monster.” 

Clare looked at Kett. 

“I don’t think you’re a monster, Robbie. Far from it. You’re a good man, but you’re also a man who won’t stop, a man who isn’t afraid of doing monstrous things. As much as I hate it, I know that sometimes that’s what it takes.””

But does Kett still have what it takes. After the other cases? The physical and emotional battering he has been through? The piece of a bullet still in his chest? His promise to his wife that he will always think of her and the girls before jumping in? But there is a reason Kett and the team do what they do:

““We lose a little bit of ourselves,” she said. “Every time. But it’s worth it. It has to be worth it. Right?” 

“It’s worth it,” Kett said, looking at Beatrice again. They were closing the doors of her ambulance, ready to go, and she waved at Kett once more before he lost sight of her.”

Kett has specific skills, his intuition, his drive, and his relentlessness. But the team knows a tidal wave of darkness is coming for them. And they are all that stands between normal citizens and monsters. And they will fight to the last to stop the monsters. And forewarned is fore armed. 

“Kett looked at them all in turn, thinking of his wife and the pig-headed man who’d taken her, thinking of his daughters inside the fire of Bingo’s apartment. 

Thinking of the world he would be leaving his girls if he didn’t do what was right. 

“If this is Hollenbeck, let them come,” he said, managing a grim smile. “I’m ready.””

I have stated before and say it yet again, each of the Kett novels are great crime mystery novels, and terribly interesting reads. They capture that British Crime Thriller feel very well. They are however, dark books with terrible crimes. And in this one the clock is ticking again, to try and save 4 more young women. 

I am always a little nervous about where the series will go next. But we know the danger and crimes are far more sinister than they used to be. And as we have all been waiting, the force realizes things are getting darker, more dangerous, and more out of control. And sometimes you need a monster to hunt a monster. And DCI Kett is that monster! 

I will be blunt and again state that this book and this series is not for all readers. It is very dark, gritty, and very intense. They are great thrillers. But not for all readers. Over ten years ago, I read and loved the Lockdown series published primarily for a young adult audience by Alexander Gordon Smith. And I loved those books and still recommend them often. But I now love the Kett books even more.

This is a great British Crime thriller, it is an excellent read in a very dark series. It will leave you desperate for the next offering Jaw Breaker 

Mystery Books as Alex Smith:

Softley Softley Series:
2.0 Hard Luck House

DCI Kett Series:
2.0 Bad Dog
3.0 Three Little Pigs

Books By Alexander Gordon Smith:
Escape from Furnace:

Death Sentence
Execution Epilogue - Short Story
The Night Children - Short Story

Fury Series:
The Fury
The Storm

The Inventors:
The Inventors
The Inventors And The City of Stolen Souls

1001 Questions and Answers
Inspired Creative Writing: 52 Brilliant Ideas from the Master Wordsmiths
The Solar System
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Writing Bestselling Children's Books: 52 Brilliant Ideas for Inspiring Young Readers

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