Written by Ed Chatterton

Review written by Katherine Armstrong

Katherine Armstrong has worked in publishing for over six years. She is a crime fiction Editor for an independent publishing company in London.

Arrow Books
RRP: £6.99
Released: 7th November 2013

Down Among the Dead Men is the second novel in Chatterton's DCI Frank Keane series. If you've not read the first book in the series, A Dark Place to Die, it doesn't matter as you can pick up the characters easily enough and this novel is set some time after the events of the previous book, although there is the occasional reference made to those events throughout the novel.

The Prologue introduces readers to Nicky Peters, a sixteen-year-old boy who has been imprisoned in a wooden box somewhere. At the end of the Prologue we're left with the sense of menace as Nicky recognises the voice of his captor and both he and the reader know that nothing good is going to happen to him. The narrative then flips to DCI Keane and his team and after some setting up of the personalities of the characters in the team, they get a case: Nicky's parents have been found brutally murdered in their home and the hunt is on for Nicky as the possible culprit. This leads Keane's Liverpool Murder Investigation Team to a film that both Nicky and his uncle were working on and is set to make the city of Liverpool some serious cash. Naturally this means that DCI Keane's superiors are anxious that the shooting of the film continues. Shame about the continuing body count then as another death links the film to the murderer.

From Liverpool the second half takes the reader to Los Angeles and here the narrative becomes more Die Hard meets Mission: Impossible (especially the scene at the end where you half expect the message to self-destruct), as Keane sets out to stop the real killer from committing a murder with global consequences.

This is a multi-narrative police procedural but DCI Frank Keane is the main hero. He is a run-of-the-mill police detective of a certain age, separated from his wife and occasionally at odds with his bosses. He's been made Head of the MIT after his predecessor's fall from grace and is struggling to be both boss and team mate. I wasn't convinced by the one night stand Keane has with his DI, Em Harris, mainly because it's a cliché that Chatterton tries to get around by making Harris a lesbian (albeit an evidently bad one). This veers into male fantasy territory and while trying to do something different just ends up being inauthentic. Keane is a likeable enough character but then again, there're a lot of them out there.

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