© 2016 by Catherine Bilson

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  • Caitlyn Lynch

Book Review: The Fourth Victim by John Mead


While The Fourth Victim has a genuinely intriguing premise and the author has obviously done their research into both the realities of police work in present-day London and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), it’s very hard to read because the grammar is just glaringly awful.

There are fundamental errors in the writing such as the failure to capitalize proper nouns (Asian, Muslim and Christian) and, having finished the book, I still don’t know who the protagonist of it was. I wanted it to be Julie Lukula, a smart young detective sergeant (and a black lesbian) but we kept slipping into the point of view of Inspector Matthew Merry, a middle-aged white man who was apparently a serial philanderer and who, frankly, I found thoroughly unlikable. Not only that, but other points of view kept intruding, characters we really had no interest in and who had no relevance to the story. The head-hopping was continuous and annoying; I was constantly wasting time reading back a few lines trying to figure out exactly whose perspective I was supposed to be in and then realizing it had just changed without warning, and for no real reason.

There’s so much to like about the premise of this story but it needs a massive content edit to clean it up and reframe it to make Julie the principal protagonist. I think she could be the kind of character to carry an entire series, but as it stands we didn’t get enough of her and she didn’t actually get to ‘solve the case’. I also really liked that the author avoided falling into the trap of demonising mental illness and that they wrote the London police force (and population) as diverse as it actually is in reality. With a lot of editing work, this could be a genuinely great read, but right at the moment, I’m afraid I can’t give it any more than two stars.

The Fourth Victim is available now.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book via Rachel’s Random Resources.

#2starreview #crimethriller #policeprocedural