A Bloody Reckoning

Written by Rafe McGregor

Review written by Adrian Magson

Adrian Magson is the author of 27 crime and spy thrillers. 'Death at the Old Asylum', the 8th title in the Inspector Lucas Rocco series set in 1960s France, currently in ebook, comes out in paperback on the 14th March via Canelo Books. More information: https://www.adrianmagson.com/

A Bloody Reckoning
Endeavour Press
RRP: £7.99 / £2.99
Released: August 25, 2017
Pbk / Kindle

It’s a dramatic change of pace and place for Garth Hutt, a captain in the Royal Military Police. From the rigours of Afghanistan, where he’s been chasing down and despatching rogue Afghan policemen for killing members of the security forces – green on blue murders as they’re called – he’s returned to the UK for a rest before taking up a new position.

One night he receives a visitor from his past – a young woman and former lover named Siân. Only she’s a shadow of the stunning woman he remembers, wasted through an excess of drugs and the abusive influence of a leading Leeds drug supplier named Mick Bell, who has had her in his grip.

Hutt’s instinct is to help her, aided by his army colleague and guest, Maikel, a Fijiian sergeant staying with Hutt while recovering from wounds. But army duty also calls, and Hutt is tasked with working with the civilian police in the form of DS Alex Lawson, CID. Lawson, a no-nonsense copper, wants Hutt to investigate the murder of a young soldier found shot in the head near Selby.

It isn’t long before the two men realise that this murder is not the only one, and that more young soldiers have suffered the same fate, stretching as far as Colchester and Germany, and that Hutt’s job is now to hunt down a very unusual prey for an MP – a serial killer. What’s more, the suspects are all serving members of the army, one of whom is a female captain and Olympic medal winning athlete.

This is right back to basics for Hutt; after hunting rogue Afghans armed and ready to kill, he’s now having to use all his investigative powers to work out who was where, who had the motive, opportunity and even desire, to kill these young soldiers.

First, though, he has to tread into dangerous gangland territory to warn off the drug dealer and his gang from catching up with Siân. He sends her away with Maikel as her protector, because he knows if she ever falls back into the gang’s clutches, she won’t be coming back.

He harbours no false hopes, and knows things will never be the same between him and Siân. But he’s only human, and as soon as he meets the woman captain who is on the list of suspects, he feels an irresistible draw to her which threatens to interfere with his investigation – and his future prospects.

This book scores high on more than one level. It’s Rafe McGregor’s ninth book along with hundreds of articles, essays and reviews (he’s a lecturer in Criminology at Leeds Trinity University and Associate Lecturer in the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of York), and that background shows right through in the writing. The style is assured and compelling, his research is complete, taking us behind the scenes and deep into the mind as well as the structure of the military, which is so very different to the civilian police.

But more than anything, the pace and tension of this novel is unremitting and skilfully drawn, as the military person has to switch from the back-alley confrontation with a vicious drug gang, to the more monitored investigation where everything he does is out in the open.

Hutt is not a super-soldier simply by being an MP. He gets hurt, emotionally and physically, and the bruises run deep. But the only way he knows is forward, and if you had to have anyone at your back, Captain Garth Hutt would be the best.

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