Tag Archive | DCI Miller

Proof of Life by Steven Suttie

I’ve been a supporter of Steven Suttie’s novels for some time now, ever since I read One Man Crusade, the first DCI Miller book, a couple of years ago. I liked books two, Neighbours from Hell, and three, Road to Nowhere, but I found book four, Gone Too Far, incredibly disappointing; it seemed like it was a parody of non-celebrity Katie Hopkins that was brimming with childish toilet humour between the detectives. This was a big departure for the usually serious and politically sensitive Suttie novels that I had come to know and admire. Suttie returned to form with book five, The Final Cut, but I felt the ending didn’t quite take advantage of what could have been a real statement about the political agenda he had built up throughout the novel. So, it was with a little trepidation that I began to read Proof of Life.

In Proof of Life, DCI Miller is once again facing a case that takes the country by storm, arousing a social and mainstream media frenzy. A teacher appears to have abducted one of his pupils for unknown reasons. However, as is common in Suttie’s novels, there are two sides to every story and nothing is ever at it seems.

I am over the moon to say that I loved this book from start to finish. I always want to love Suttie’s novels but my expectations of being blown away are so high, with One Man Crusade setting the bar, that it is inevitable that not every book will have the same effect. Of course, Suttie has had an excellent response to the two books that didn’t quite match my expectations, (although I should clarify that I loved The Final Cut right up to the end, which I felt detracted from the issues highlighted throughout), so they have obviously struck the right chord with other fans, which I’m really happy about, as I have championed Suttie on Segnalibro many times.

I love the way that Suttie sets a political agenda, and with a journalistically styled narrative that refers to real media outlets, and the effects of social media, he creates a brilliantly effective story that tells both sides of the story, often leading the reader to question their own beliefs and viewpoints. DCI Miller and his team are great conduits in the narrative and while the toilet humour is a little overbearing and in my opinion, unnecessary at times, the tales he tells show real crises in our country today.

Suttie never shies away from a political “hot potato”, in fact he embraces it with both hands and teaches us a thing or two along the way. He cleverly gives us a viewpoint that we might not have considered before but without any sense of bias on the narrator’s part. He tells it like it is, but leaves the reader to make his own mind up.

Proof of Life is a brilliant novel that kept me gripped from start to finish. As the characters of the DCI Miller characters become more familiar with each novel, the reader is much more invested, as with any good series of novels. In future novels, I’d like to see more of the detectives out of work. We’ve had snippets in the novels so far but I’d like to see more. Whatever Suttie chooses for his next subject, I’ll undoubtedly be one of the first in line to read it.

Proof of life

Road To Nowhere by Steven Suttie

I spent some of last weekend lounging in the sun in the back garden finishing off the third book in the DCI Miller series, Road To Nowhere by Steven Suttie. Having been a fan of Suttie’s novels since I was absolutely floored by the phenomenal One Man Crusade last year, I was really keen to read this third instalment. I had been a tad disappointed with Neighbours From Hell, not because it was a bad book but because it didn’t quite end as I’d have liked. The ending had left me feeling deflated and sad that there appeared to have been a grave miscarriage of justice (though I did comment in my review at the time that perhaps that was Suttie’s intention). I was genuinely gutted not to have felt as blown away as I did after One Man Crusade, so I was really hoping that this third book would redeem the DCI Miller series.

Road To Nowhere catches up with DCI Miller a little time after the “Neighbours From Hell” case. The mother of convicted killer, Rachel Birdsworth, is campaigning for a retrial and DCI Miller has little time or inclination to entertain this idea as he is thrown into a case which will generate a national response. Well respected family man Sergeant Jason Knight has vanished after a bike ride and when his wife Rebecca calls it in, Miller is asked to head up the case to find the missing policeman. The pressure is on as “one of their own” is unaccounted for.

Typically for a Steven Suttie novel, the action is described in a detached journalistic style, which allows the reader to make their own mind up without the influence of the author. This works so very well as Suttie doesn’t shy away from highly emotive topics. I’m not going to go into detail about the plot as it would undoubtedly spoil it for future readers but Suttie has a brilliant way for leading you down one absolute train of thought and turning it on its head. The best part of it is, you just don’t see it coming!

I think it would prove confusing to read this book as a standalone, but to be quite honest, you’d be seriously missing out if you didn’t read the first two books first anyway, because they are wonderfully executed. The three books as a series would provide anyone with a good few brilliant hours of reading and although not for the faint-hearted, they contain some really strong characters.

DCI Miller and his team don’t interact quite as much in Road To Nowhere, and while I’d have loved to have seen more of the team dynamics, the book doesn’t suffer for this, in fact it works really well. I think there is plenty of mileage in further DCI Miller books to further explore these characters that we came to know and love in the first two books but this book has enough going on and to take up too much page space with this would have been an error on Suttie’s part, because it would have been lost. The plot moves fast in this novel and while the snippets that we get of Miller’s team are precious few, it feels very evenly balanced.

Suttie always provides a political edge to his novels and Road To Nowhere is no different. Lack of funding for public services, lack of resources and hidden agendas are all referred to in this novel. The role of the media and their manipulation of the unsuspecting viewers/readers is exposed but Suttie does not give any opinion in this novel. He gives the reader enough food for thought for them to make up their own mind. His narrative, apart from some character exchanges, is quite unemotional and more a provision of the facts, with an occasional clue as to what happens next, yet as a reader, my emotions were all over the place. Not quite to the extent that they were in One Man Crusade, (I don’t think any book will ever have quite the emotional effect on me that One Man Crusade did), but I felt shocked, sad, angry, amused, revolted and nervous that the scenarios that Suttie depicts in this novel (and his others too) could and most likely do, happen. Given that Suttie’s novels are based in the Manchester area, where I live, it is a bit disconcerting to imagine these events taking place so close to home. I recognise and have at least travelled through Suttie’s locations. Whilst adding an extra facet to like about these novels, it also adds another level of fear and suspense as you can’t help but consider that these potentially realistic fictional events are based just a few miles away.

Of course, there will be familiarities in Road To Nowhere for anyone who lives in the UK. Sky News is a big feature, almost another character, in this novel, as they play an equally helpful and hindering role in the search for Sergeant Knight. As Suttie describes the situation from the point of view of the Sky News staff and those who they source their information from, the reader gets a perception of every angle – from the police, from the relatives and friends of the victims and perpetrators and from the victims and perpetrators themselves. It is this balanced view that makes Road To Nowhere, like Neighbours From Hell and One Man Crusade before them, brilliant reads.

Special mention should go to Suttie’s brilliant choice of venue name for a truly brutal section of the book. The Segnalibro Sign Writing Co is an inspired bit of naming and it is shame that it was abandoned and used for such violent goings-on. Yet it worked so well and it brought a very big smile to my face!

My lovely friend Nichola, who has been reading these novels around the same time as I have, after she was captivated by One Man Crusade following my recommendation, was willing me to get cracking as she had already finished and it didn’t take me long to catch up because I couldn’t put it down. After a discussion over a nice meal this week, we were both in agreement that Suttie had absolutely smashed it with Road To Nowhere. Our gripes about the ending of Neighbours From Hell have been explored sufficiently and the main plot for this book is gripping and surprising throughout. The three books as trio would make a mind-blowing read for someone reading them one after the other and I sincerely hope that this is not the last we’ve seen of DCI Miller. There are so many storylines hinted at but not fully explored, and rightly so, in this novel but I would love to see them developed in future books. Nichola and I are waiting with baited breath to see if Suttie will oblige us with another instalment. Pretty, pretty please with sugar on top!!!!