Dead Charming by I.D.Jackson

Following my recent review of Cold Call, it was suggested that I review another Percy Publishing novel, Dead Charming by I.D. Jackson. Having developed a taste for crime novels in recent weeks, I thought I’d give it a read.

The first thing I liked about this novel is that it is set in familiar territory, in Manchester. I was aware of a lot of the location settings which I feel makes a book automatically favourable to a reader. The novel follows various characters as a string of rapes and murders are committed by a man known as Joe Reed. The police have a full profile of this man but no means to find him. With young, brunette mothers being kidnapped, the Greater Manchester Metropolitan Police are pulling out all the stops to get these women back before Reed tortures, sexually assaults and kills them.

I found it a bit slow-going at first, while the scene was being set for Reed’s crimes. However, once the action picked up, I was hooked. I wanted answers to what the killer’s motives were and why he focussed on a particular type of woman.

The descriptions in this book were very detailed, offering up many red herrings along the way and sufficiently distracting the reader from any potential clues as to what was going on. It seems a rarity these days that books are written with such finite detail and it was effective in it’s purpose to give more information than necessary in order to mislead the reader, keeping the suspense up until the very end of the novel.

My only concern with this book is that it was easy to forget what the main plot was as there were a number of sub-plots that overtook on occasion. As readers, Jackson draws us to particular characters and yet their importance seems to be diminished as if they were of no consequence. One character in particular seems to be  placed as a main protagonist, yet, in retrospect, contributes very little that wouldn’t have been discovered anyway without that character’s input. I must admit, I felt a little short-changed with how this character was developed towards the end. However, I acknowledge that this character’s presence and subsequent crises gives the reader an alternative focus. (Apologies for the vagueness, but I don’t want to give anything away to those future readers!)

The sympathies of the reader are cleverly re-directed on a regular basis as justifications are offered for the actions of the various characters. I often felt that a lot of the characters came off much worse than they deserved given the circumstances of their actions. Certainly some of the characters really drew the short straw when it came to being lucky. However, this also worked the opposite way, where certain characters got much better than they deserved. A good example of real life!

I think there may be more to be gleaned from this book in terms of the characters that we have been introduced to. I’m not sure whether a sequel is in the works but I think there could be plenty of mileage in exploring some of the characters not necessarily given a thorough examination in Dead Charming. Peter Foster and DI Sam Bradbury spring to mind. I’d certainly be curious to know how they both react to the ending of this novel.

On the whole, I enjoyed this book, and it will keep any future readers guessing until the end. As a reader you will gather your theories, much like the characters in the novel, but ultimately the ending will most likely be a surprise to you, which is all you can ask from a crime novel. I would never have guessed the ending and for me, reading this book was time well spent! I have every confidence that this will be very successful and I look forward to reading more I.D. Jackson novels in the future.