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.