Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Review of Without the Moon by Cathi Unsworth (Serpents Tail, 2015)

London, 1942. A killer is preying on women in the blacked out streets of London. As women fear for their lives, DCI Ted Greenaway investigates, seeking to quickly capture the murderer. The killer, however, is moving swiftly, selecting new victims in rapid succession. To add to Greenaway’s woes as soon as he apprehends the suspected killer another women is murdered in the same area, raising the question as to whether he has arrested the right person, or whether a second killer is at work.

Without the Moon is a relatively straightforward police procedural, although with fewer twists and turns, and less focus on the personal life of the lead police officer. The story is rather linear and the two denouements (one mid-book) anti-climaxes, which is somewhat to do with it being the fictionalised account of two real cases that took place, the first named ‘the blackout ripper.’ The tale is also somewhat thin, with Unsworth fleshing out the story with subplots relating to London gangsters and lives of working women. The characters are largely one-dimensional lacking backstory and personality. In addition, there were a number of small elements that didn’t ring true, for example, a sergeant calling his boss ‘Ted’, as opposed to ‘Sir’ or ‘DCI Greenaway’. The result was a story that had an interesting setting and premise, but felt a bit anaemic with respect to characters, plot and storytelling.

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