- Author: Damien Boyd
- Published: January 2015 by Thomas & Mercer
- Category: Crime, Suspense, Police Procedural
Rock climbing is now a blood sport.
Detective Inspector Nick Dixon’s former climbing partner, Jake Fayter, is dead. Killed in a fall whilst practising a new route on High Rock, Cheddar Gorge. Convinced that Jake would not have made such a simple mistake, Nick Dixon starts digging and uncovers a web of intrigue and criminal activity that will rock the sleepy seaside town of Burnham-on-Sea to its core.
DI Nick Dixon recently left the Metropolitan Police and returned to his home county, joining the Avon and Somerset force and, although few people could understand his reasoning, Nick knew he’d made the right decision. He wasn’t particularly interested in advancement, it was all about solving crimes, even if it had left him in an unfurnished rented cottage. That didn’t matter so much when he was on the beach with his eight month old rescued Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Monty. He is enjoying being on his home turf.
When Nick gets a call informing him his friend and climbing buddy has been killed in an incomprehensible climbing accident, he begins to investigate Jake’s death, along with an ongoing burglary case.
Dixon called in at his cottage in Brent Knoll for a change of clothes and to pick up Monty before heading over to Cheddar Police Station. PC Cole had Jake’s climbing equipment ready on the table in the back office. It consisted of a small rucksack, with two 9 mm ropes attached to it. Both the rucksack and the ropes were spattered with blood. There were also two slings and a screw gate karabiner that had been found still looped around a tree at the top of High Rock.
Dixon looked at the ropes and could see that neither had been cut. He checked the free ends of each rope for damage and could see none. No scuff marks. Nothing.
A short read, coming in at just under 160 pages in the print version, nevertheless a very promising debut and first in a series with room for character development. Nick is level-headed and realistic insofar as it goes, but I think he needs more depth and description. The characters didn’t come alive as much as I would have liked so I couldn’t get fully connected or invested in them, which is an important part of the reading experience. As there several subsequent books in the series already published, I’m sure this has been resolved. On the other hand, the locations are easy to picture, even for someone who is not already familiar with them.
The police procedural aspect seems true to life and innately British in the way it’s conducted. I like the fact Nick uses his climbing knowledge to work through the investigation into Jake’s death. The pace is steady with several twists and there’s the beginning of a favourable relationship between Nick, who doesn’t always follow official procedure, and his boss, DCI Lewis.
I know none of the technicalities to do with rock climbing, which obviously doesn’t apply to the author. There are lots of climbing references initially which, while I didn’t understand all of them, didn’t detract from the story, but gave it a different spin. Looking forward to reading more in the series.
About Damien Boyd
Drawing on extensive experience of criminal law as well as a spell in the Crown Prosecution Service, Damien writes fast paced crime thrillers featuring Detective Inspector Nick Dixon, Avon & Somerset CID.