A serial killer in Hampstead Heath – to solve the case a Superintendent brings in a psychologist obsessed by Golden Age Detectives such as Dorothy Sayers
The Hampstead Murders #1
A murder is committed, yet another woman has fallen into the hands of the serial killer haunting the Hampstead area for two years. How to solve a case lacking physical evidence without apparent leads? Who can connect the dots and what method will be favoured? Will it be the copper’s nose of the old-timer or the intelligence of the officer, fast-tracked for promotion? Must they go further back, to the Golden Age detective Lord Peter Wimsey – Dorothy Sayers’ creation?
A woman lies dead in the alley – another victim of the Hampstead serial killer. Detective Chief Inspector Tom Allen knows that it will be hard on his team. Two years now they are into the hunt for the serial killer and not a shred of evidence is found. As you may expect with a serial killer, the five women are in no way connected to each other. When DCI Allen and his second in command Detective Inspector Bob Metcalfe once again enter the operations room, the whole team experience a feeling of responsibility: had they apprehended the serial killer this fifth murder would not have taken place. Again the procedures are set in action and a photo of the latest victim is put next to the photos of the previous four victims: a reminder of the team’s failure so far. Whereas most of the detective team has been involved since the first murder, Detective Constable Karen Willis, a recent addition, has already proven herself of value.
DCI Allen, the old-timer with the copper’s nose is optimistic that there might be fresh evidence, as the latest victim’s body has been found shortly after she was murdered. However, when Simon Collison, a law graduate on a fast-track to promotion to Detective Superintendent, is added to the team Allen knows that Super Collinson will take over his case. A resentful Allen decides he will pursue the case on his own. Contrary to DCI Allen, Super Simon Collinson rather relies on psychology and intelligence and inspiring leadership to conduct an investigation by encouraging the team members to openly discuss ideas regardless of seniority. DI Bob Metcalfe and DC Karen Willis find this new spirit of optimism catching and the three of them become close. That is why Karen suggests bringing her boyfriend, psychologist Peter Collins, in on the case to provide them with a psychological profile of the serial killer.
The profile and a fresh piece of evidence are enough to energise the detectives and give hope of catching the killer who kept them running for almost two years. All seems well – until what first seemed logical and based on sound evidence somehow falls apart. More unexpected turns are about to follow. This deeply affects the team, especially the friends Simon Collinson, BobMetcalfe and Karen Willis. Karen Willis loves talking about the Golden Age detectives and their research of cases and Bob Metcalfe, because of his fascination for Karen, wants to understand it. But Peter Collins is obsessed by Golden Age detectives and when on the verge of a nervous breakdown he is in danger of becoming Dorothy Sayers’ protagonist Lord Peter Wimsey to escape reality. A complication to the already complex investigation. as is the mounting public pressure and Super Simon Collinson fears he may not be able to apprehend the serial killer…
This first book in The Hampstead Murders series is a pleasant read, it’s captivating and thrilling. The characters are likeable and human, they make mistakes and their personal life influences their work. There are intriguing plot twists and just when you think you know who did it you are proven wrong. I know I was. What I especially liked were the references to and the discussions on the topic of different types of detective styles. The old school methods of gathering evidence versus the intelligence of the Golden Age detectives. As a lifelong fan of Agatha Christie, like Dorothy Sayers a Golden Age detective author, I’m of course biased! I read the book in one session and loved it. I look forward to reading the next book in the series: ‘Miss Christie Regrets’.
About the Author
Guy Fraser-Sampson is a lawyer with deep-set roots in the investment area. Since 2007, he has been a member of the teaching staff at Cass Business School. A few years ago he started writing fiction. He has written three books in the ‘Mapp and Lucia’ series as well as in ‘The Hampstead Murder’ series. Volume #2 is ‘Miss Christie Regrets‘ (my review) and Volume #3 is ‘A Whiff of Cyanide‘ (my review).
|Publisher||Urbane Publications (18 Mar. 2016)|