Book review: The God Slayer by Roy Chester

The ritualistic murder of a Jewish rabbi puts the local police in a spin as a high-profile faith conference heads to town.

Tuesday, 9th November 2010, 6:00 am

Joseph Caton was slaughtered in the grounds of his own synagogue – a lance with a dragon banner was driven through his chest and the Star of David carved onto his chest by an assassin dressed in the robes of a medieval warrior monk.

But this is just the start of a killing spree which will plunge Assistant Chief Constable David Mallory, DCI Gary Falcon and criminal profiler Fiona Nightingale into a bewildering case involving ancient legends, hidden artefacts and secret sects.

Ormskirk author Roy Chester is back with the crack police team which featured in his two earlier thrillers, The Toy Breaker and Anger Man, and they face another heart-stopping race against time to nail a killer.

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Retired Proudman Professor of Oceanography at the University of Liverpool, Chester has been riding high on a wave of success since he took up novel writing.

His city of Garton detective stories provide intelligent, well-plotted and exciting storylines alongside fascinating and authentic procedural and scientific detail, adding a welcome touch of class.

Chester revels in teasing his readers with a list of suspects and then inviting us to weigh up the evidence, hunt for clues and see if we can beat Mallory and his sidekicks to the finishing line.

And The God Slayer mystery is a real humdinger...

One by one, three religious leaders are brutally murdered – the Jewish rabbi, a moderate Islamic imam and then an archbishop, each with the representative signs of their faith cut into their chests.

Is this is a killer on a mission to destroy all faiths and to promote the forces of the Devil and darkness?

Whatever the motive, it’s not what the police need with the VIP faith conference heading to Garton.

Enquiries reveal that Rabbi Caton’s synagogue has a connection with the shadowy Guardians, a Jewish sect chosen to safeguard an ancient treasure which is believed to be hidden somewhere in the precincts.

Meanwhile, the police have tracked down three prime suspects – a young actress with a serious attention-seeking disorder who says she recognises the killer’s robes, a vicar who is suffering a crisis of faith after witnessing a terrible act of barbarism in Africa and a student who may be out for revenge after being beaten by his father, a religious fanatic.

They’re all troubled souls but which of them, if any, is capable of murder and can the team solve the case before the conference opens?

Intriguing, compelling and thoroughly entertaining.

(Hale, hardback, £18.99)