Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Bye Bye Baby" by Lauren Crow/Fiona McIntosh

Confused by the title of the review? Well, it would have been simply "Bye Bye Baby" by Lauren Crow if I hadn't been to the bookstore just yesterday. While there, I noticed a book also called "Bye Bye Baby", except this time by Fiona McIntosh. I picked it up to have a look, especially since I'd just finished reading the one by Lauren Crow. At which point, I noticed the synopsis on the back was exactly the same! Flicking through, especially to the end, it seemed that both books were identical, except for the name of the author. I don't know why there was a change of name, and I can't say for certain that there are no differences between the two, but if there are, this review is based on the book with Lauren Crow as the credited author.

DCI Jack Hawksworth is put in charge of a serial killer enquiry in which somebody is killing men, removing their lips and their genitals and painting blue on their faces. His second-in-command is DI Kate Carter, whose relationship with her fiance hits a rocky patch when she realises she has the hots for her boss. Making this worse is the fact that Jack only has eyes for his new neighbour Sophie Fenton, a beautiful wheelchair-bound woman. The investigation eventually determines that the killer is a woman and that she is seeking revenge on those involved in her rape and the death of her baby some thirty years earlier. The killer's own loss of a child from SIDS is the stressor that has caused her to become a murderer.

"Bye Bye Baby" isn't a bad debut crime novel. Although mostly a police procedural, Crow doesn't get bogged down in the minute details like most other authors - the detectives here figure things out at about the same pace as Crow reveals plot twists to the reader, so the novel thankfully never devolves into a case of the reader simply waiting for the detectives to catch up. Insights into the killer's mind are another benefit here, gradually outlaying the motive behind the killings. This is probably the most absorbing and interesting element of the novel - my sympathy was fully behind the murderer. The victims deserved everything they got, really. The main problem here is the fact that nothing is new. The rape-and-revenge plotline is as hold as the hills. There are very few plot twists, and the most major one is easy to spot from a mile away. Crow has talent as a writer, as the book keeps you involved, but originality is not a strong point. And she's good enough that I want to track down the follow-up - which I might never have known about, because it's under Fiona McIntosh's name.

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