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Book review: Marked by David Jackson

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Scourge of the NYPD, an enigma to his own family, Detective Callum Doyle lives life on the edge...

Obsessive, hot-headed, rude and abrasive, he broods, snarls and glowers, but the violence that bubbles beneath his prickly Irish immigrant skin is threatening to erupt with devastating effect.

Marked is Wirral-based David Jackson’s third book featuring maverick New York cop Doyle and this new chapter in what has become the single-minded detective’s ruthless, relentless pursuit of justice makes its own show-stopping mark.

For a writer who must surely be more familiar with the beat of a British bobby, Jackson has become masterful at immersing himself in the seamy side of Manhattan’s Eighth Precinct.

His superb crime thrillers crackle with the tension that exudes from every pore of a detective whose nose for trouble, fine line in making enemies and penchant for black humour have made him an irresistible anti-hero.

As Doyle’s erratic behaviour becomes more unpredictable, so the cases he is assigned to become more gruesome, more baffling, more compromising ... and more deadly.

In New York’s downtown East Village, 16-year-old Megan Hamlyn, who lives with her parents in a pretty tree-lined road in middle class Forest Hills, is brutally raped, tortured and murdered. Her body parts are put in garbage bags and left for others to discover.

Detective Callum Doyle is put on the case even though only a few months ago he thought his police career was all but over. His last assignment turned him into something of a hero and since then he’s ‘become a cop again.’

But his colleagues, including his new partner Detective Tommy LeBlanc, are suspicious of him, not least because his rapier-sharp mind is allied to a nasty temper and a vicious tongue. Working with him, LeBlanc is warned, is ‘like walking through a minefield... just make sure he doesn’t make you go first.’

Meanwhile, Doyle has seen the victim’s remains, he’s visited the distraught family, he wants justice at all costs, and a distinctive tattoo on the girl’s body leaves him convinced he knows who the killer is.

The only problem is that he can’t prove it and the more he pushes his prime suspect, the more he learns that the man is capable of pushing back in ways more devious and twisted than Doyle could ever have imagined.

Throw in the appearance of an old adversary who has a mission for Doyle and won’t take no for an answer, and soon the detective finds himself at risk of losing everything he holds dear, including his life.

Marked is a deftly executed thriller with a fascinating cop as lead player. Journeying with Doyle through the immoral maze of downtown New York is a walk on the wild side, but one you wouldn’t certainly want to miss.

(Macmillan, paperback, £12.99)

 

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