Imperfection is a new crime series featuring D.I. Stewart Gardener and D. S. Sean Reilly, and set in the West Yorkshire city of Leeds. A haunting message scrawled on the dressing room wall of a theatre: the scene of a murder. It had been written using the blood from the victim, previously drained in a separate location. At the autopsy, D.I. Gardener and D.S. Reilly are shown a riddle carved into the chest of the corpse, informing them there would be more. Their efforts to find out why are continually blocked by a wall of contradiction, with little in the way of evidence to support their cause. Steered back to the scene of the crime and a disused prop room, Gardener and his trusted sergeant find another puzzle. The murderer, it seems, is playing games. It soon becomes clear to Gardener and Reilly that to find the killer they need to solve the clues, and to do that, they must tunnel their way into the past, where the streets were paved with gold, and to a man who had terrified people before either of them had even been born...
My review of Imperfection
Imperfection is set in Leeds and I guessed around the early 2000s, with the clues that we were given with regards to the timeframe. This helped to give a slightly nostalgic feel to the novel. The book opens when an aging actor, Leonard White, is found murdered at the Grand Theatre. His body has been drained of all blood and a cryptic clue/message has been painted using his blood onto his dressing room wall. From this moment on, the police are out to find out who the murderer is. The real joy of this book is that from very early on we are in on who the murderer is, and we are able to read passages were he describes his life. So we get the viewpoints of both the police and the killer. Therefore, I wanted to find out why he was killing, just as much as the police did.This book is very well written, it has a natural flow to the writing and we follow the story with ease. Coupled with this are descriptive and interesting characters. The two police officers who are following the case are D.I. Stewart Gardener and D. S. Sean Reilly. They work well as a team and I found them hugely likeable. Gardener lives with his father and son, and we learn that he has lived in Leeds all of his life, as everyone seems to know him from being a little boy. Reilly on the other hand is an Irishman, an outsider, and it took me a little longer to get to know him, but by the end of the book, I had a lot of respect for him. This novel also has some interesting supporting characters. For instance, I loved the character of Fittle, who had worked at the Theatre for the past thirty years and practically lived in a small cupboard drinking tea and eating biscuits. He added a much needed sense of humour to proceedings in what was quite a dark and disturbing book.
Imperfection is the story of a serial killer. A killer who is sadistic and caries out grotesque murders, of which the aftermath is described in some detail. But the brutality and amount of planning that the murderer does is pivotal to the plot. We need to despise him and everything that he stands for, without question, and I did.
As I mentioned earlier, this is not your run of the mill crime drama and serial killer book. The police procedures seem to be from a time long ago and their way of solving crimes is most definitely 'off beat'. This is shown by the fact that the police do not think about using the internet to check the quotes that are from the killer. Instead they go to experts and find the answers in books. Although I did find this a little strange, and did shout at one point that they should simply Google the answer, at the same time I found this quality endearing. It very much felt like good old fashioned detective work, but with a likeable twist.
Imperfection is a very ambitious book that blurs genres and somehow withstands the boundaries of time. It is a hugely refreshing read and I now need to go back and read the first book in the series. If you want to read a crime novel with a twist, and one that is highly unique, then I thoroughly recommend Imperfection. I really enjoyed it.
With thanks to Urbane Publications and NetGalley for a review copy.
Imperfection, published on Match 30 by Urbane Publications, can be found on Amazon here.
About the author
The British Fantasy Society published the Ray Clark's first work in 1995, a 3000 word essay on fellow writer, Graham Masterton. In 1996, a chance meeting in a London docklands hotel at a BFS Convention with Matt Williams (and Graham Masterton - himself later in the same evening) eventually led to Ray's first big break: the 1998 publication of Manitou Man: The World of Graham Masterton, nominated for both the World and British Fantasy Awards. Success followed with a number of short stories in various magazines between 1998 and 2003. 2007 saw the author's first collection of short stories under the title of The Lord of Misrule and Other Stories, released by an American publisher. The following year, the self-publication of a stand-alone horror novel, Calix, a terrifying psychological, rollercoaster ride into the unknown using the Salem Witch Trials as its backdrop. In 2009: Ray's short story, Promises To Keep made the final shortlist for the best short story award from The Tom Howard Foundation. The publication of Misrule 2: The Next Generation soon followed. In 2010: the short story, Purple Rain was published in the American quarterly publication, Carpe Articulum: A Twist in the Taste was also published in a collection by The English Heritage, entitled, Whitby Abbey: Pure Inspiration (available at Amazon and most leading retailers). 2012: The Priest's Hole, a horror novel published by Damnation Books in the U.S. Available as a paperback and a variety of electronic versions. In 2012: Canadian publisher, Double Dragon Press, re-released Calix with new artwork, both electronically and in paperback. In 2013: Canadian Publisher, Double Dragon published A Devil's Dozen, a collection of short horror stories. 2014: a new crossover novel entitled Seven Secrets from U.S. Publisher, Damnation Books. 2015: a second short story collection entitled, A Detective's Dozen, from Canadian publisher, Double Dragon. 2016: the first in the author's IMP crime series set in Leeds featuring Detectives Gardener and Reilly, entitled Impurity, from U.S. Publisher, Caliburn Press. 2017: The second in the IMP series, Imperfection, will be published by Urbane Publications in the spring of 2017