Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Review of The Safe Word by Karen Long (Createspace, 2014)

Detective Inspector Eleanor Raven has a dark secret that she’d like to keep hidden from her colleagues - sadomasochist sex with anonymous men.  However, when women of a similar disposition start to be killed by a murderer with an artistic bent in her home city of Toronto, her personal and work life become entwined.  Under pressure to catch the killer, Raven and her misfit team struggle to identify the killer and bring him to justice.  And unknown to Raven, she is a lot closer to the case than she realises.

The Safe Word is a reasonably competent, run-of-the-mill serial killer police procedural set in Toronto.  The story is engaging enough, but the premise is a little tired given the spree of such novels in recent years, and relies on a few too many plot devices to help the investigation along.  The ending is somewhat telegraphed and there are some unanswered questions with respect to the case and characters.  Eleanor Raven is a bit of a cold fish and there is little in the way of fleshing out her back story or development of her character.  Moreover, the sense of place is a little lacking; the story could have been happening anywhere.  The strength of the novel is the team around Raven, who provide an interesting ensemble cast that add life and realism to the plot through some nice interchanges.  Overall, an okay debut, with a set of characters that have the potential to populate a decent series.

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