A. R. Ashworth's debut police procedural, Souls of Men, is not for the weak of heart. The crimes are vicious. The villains are true villains. And, his lead detective, Elaine Hope, is in for the fight of her life in this book.
Detective Inspector Elaine Hope is partnered with Benford, a Detective Chief Inspector probably investigating his last major case since he retires in thirty days. The victim is a teenage girl, brutally beaten, stomped, and slashed with a knife, and then her body was dumped. Fortunately, in London, there are cameras that show the girl getting on a bus, and getting off, followed by a man. The camera leads point to a loner, a surgeon. Although Elaine doesn't believe he's the killer, Benford demands a fast arrest. But, in the middle of the interrogation, Benford suffers from a health emergency. Now, the newly named Acting Detective Chief Inspector, Elaine Hope is handed a bungled case while the tabloids demand action.
Although she has limited manpower, Hope puts together a dedicated team who are willing to put in the time necessary to catch the killer. And, when a possible witness is brutally killed, she's able to add a couple more officers to the group. Part of the pleasure in reading a police procedural comes from watching the team track down the clues, eliminate suspects, and plod through the case to a successful conclusion. DCI Elaine Hope is determined to do everything she can to find justice for the victims, and her team works diligently toward a case that can be laid out for the prosecutor. But, the people behind the vicious deaths are as intelligent and wily as Hope.
I appreciated the logical development of the investigation in Souls of Men. I didn't feel as if Hope truly came alive in the book. She lacked emotional depth, although her intelligence and capabilities are outstanding. But, it's obvious that Ashworth is setting the groundwork for an ongoing series, and the story of an officer who is knocked down, but determined to fight back.
A.R. Ashworth's website is www.arashworth.com
Souls of Men by A. R. Ashworth. Crooked Lane. 2017. ISBN 9781683311171 (hardcover), 304p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review it for a journal.