It’s a nice feeling when you read a book by a new to you author, and although there are lots of things you don’t like, you carry on, and then when you’ve finished, you liked it sufficiently to read the next in the series, and you end up after a couple more really pleased you persevered! My favourite novels are police procedurals – I read a lot of other things as well, fiction and non-fiction, but a good old detective story is my go-to.
I think I just came across ‘A Litter of Bones’ by J.D. Kirk on Amazon and got it as an eBook. I’d had what someone called a reading slump, where nothing appealed and i think I just wanted something to last me while I waited to find the next great read. So I wasn’t going to be super critical, but the Amazon blurb wasn’t great:
Ten years ago, DCI Jack Logan stopped the serial child-killer dubbed ‘Mister Whisper,’ earning himself a commendation, a drinking problem, and a broken marriage in the process. Now, he spends his days working in Glasgow’s Major Investigations Team, and his nights reliving the horrors of what he saw. And what he did. When another child disappears a hundred miles north in the Highlands, Jack is sent to lead the investigation and bring the boy home. But as similarities between the two cases grow, could it be that Jack caught the wrong man all those years ago?
Cop, described as a tormented detective, with drinking problem and a broken marriage? Haunted by an old case? It did sound very similar to so many other books. However, set in the Highlands piqued my interest just a tiny bit.. I have to say it was very ho-hum, but it was an interesting story, and the characters weren’t quite as wooden as they seemed when I first met them, and something about it kept me reading. I felt as if it needed better editing, to reign in some of the rather tired descriptions, and to let the characters be less caricatured or even stereotypical. However, there was something about the book which did engage me, and i bought the second in the series because I did want to see if the writing had settled down, and I had been sufficiently interested in the plot to give JD Kirk another go. There were several quite comical moments which also lifted the story.
The next book, ‘Thicker than Water’ was about a murder which took place near Loch Ness and of course there were the usual crowd who believed the Lock Ness monster was responsible. Not only did the police have to contend with all the expected difficulties, there was the lunatic fringe to confuse the issue. I was pleased I’d persevered with the author – the plot was really intriguing, and I have to say I didn’t fully guess the identity of the killer or the motive. There was still some irritations with carless writing; one thing which had bugged me in the first book was teeth, tongue, mouth, lips – the main character (and others) were forever clicking their tongue against their back teeth (how?) running their tongue over their back teeth, picking their teeth and other tongue/teeth/mouth things which became annoyingly obtrusive. But, once again, I’d enjoyed it sufficiently to move onto… number three.
The Killing Code – if I’d read this first I would definitely have read the others without wondering whether to do so. There were still aspects which didn’t work for me, and the wretched teeth thing, but in fact I barely noticed. Mr Kirk had got into his stride and especially towards the end I was gripped, This led me to Blood and Treachery which is set in the Glencoe area of Scotland which in itself was interesting. It was another good story, and the humour now began to work for me – did I just not ‘get’ it in the other books, or was it a little forced?
The last book in the series which I’ve read is ‘The Last Bloody Straw’ and is set on a Scottish Island, Canna. However, although there are real people living there, the book is set in a fictional community. I’m not sure teeth were mentioned at all, and it was an unusual and intriguing mystery, and the one I have enjoyed most so far. I have another on my list, and then there are two more in the series. I’m glad I persevered after reading the first one, and feel a little guilty I was critical, sorry Mr Kirk, but I’m reading and recommending your books now!