Book review: Killing for Keeps by Mari Hannah

When the going gets tough, the tough get going… the old saying packs a powerful punch in murder chief DCI Kate Daniels’ most disturbing case yet.

By Pam Norfolk
Friday, 17th July 2015, 10:00 am
Killing for Keeps by Mari Hannah
Killing for Keeps by Mari Hannah

Stomach-turning torture, grisly murders and a brutal gangland war test the gutsy Tyneside cop to the limit, just as her high-pressure job is starting to take its toll.

Welcome back to Northumbria Police’s Murder Investigation Team and the dangerous world of one of crime fiction’s most exciting female detectives… a tenacious, straight-talking investigator with an appealing vulnerability and a fine line in blunt northern humour.

DCI Kate Daniels is the creation of award-winning author Mari Hannah, a former probation officer who has made authentic police procedural, action-packed plots and spine-tingling suspense her stock in trade.

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This is the fifth outing for Kate who seems to have hit a low in both her work and private life so it’s bad timing when two brothers from the same criminal family die within hours of each other, only a few miles apart.

It’s a high-profile case… John and Terry Allen have both been tortured and murdered with a shocking level violence never before witnessed by Kate Daniels and her murder squad. One brother was found dumped from a van on the edge of a Newcastle industrial estate, the other abandoned on a trolley in the busy A&E department of a local hospital.

The men – gangsters with a reputation that is legendary in Northumbria – had suffered injuries so horrific that the police team is struggling to come to terms with the savagery… but there is something about the crimes that doesn’t add up for eagle-eyed Kate.

In the meantime, she must find out who wanted them dead, will they kill again and could the murders lead to a terrible gang war on her patch. Investigating the killings leads an exhausted and increasingly crotchety Kate to break some rules, putting her career as well as her life on the line.

And as the body count rises, the focus of the inquiry switches first to Glasgow and then to Alicante in Spain, leading Kate and her trusty sidekick DS Hank Gormley into a confrontation with a dangerous criminal hell-bent on revenge…

Killing for Keeps sees Hannah on blistering form in a chilling and eye-wateringly violent story as detective dynamo Kate, weighed down by her own emotional struggles, puts her job on the line to solve a dark, demanding and far-reaching case.

As always, the blustery North-East and its shadowy corners provide an atmospheric backdrop to a cleverly plotted, twisting-and-turning thriller which makes the whole gamut of police work and psychology appear breathtakingly real.

With a cast of credible characters, blood-curdling killings, some superb dialogue and a few romantic surprises along the way, Hannah serves up another terrific feast of murder and mystery.

(Macmillan, paperback, £7.99)