Author: Ray Britain
Published: September 2017 by Ray Britain
Category: Crime, Police Procedural, Book Review
Accused of pushing a boy to his death in a failed suicide intervention, DCI Doug Stirling is suspended from duty. Attacked in the media and haunted by the boy’s smile as he let go of Stirling’s hand, he must look on helplessly as an incompetent colleague intent on destroying him investigates the boy’s death, supported by the vindictive Deputy Chief Constable, McDonald.
The Last Thread begins with a distressing prologue as DCI Doug Stirling is called to a motorway bridge near the station, as a voluntary negotiator. A young boy is balanced on the outside edge of the bridge threatening to jump. Stirling’s attempts to save the teenager were unsuccessful and his actions were called into question. While under investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, Stirling is suspended from active duty. When an anonymous caller a few weeks later reports a burnt out car with a body inside, a lack of man power results in Stirling being appointed as Senior Investigating Officer on the case.
‘Sounds interesting, Dave, but I’m suspended from operational duties. If the media hears I’m involved in anything, they’ll be all over it. And I can’t see McDonald agreeing to it, can you?’
Stirling felt resentment at being prevented from doing what he loved most because of Ballard’s showboating incompetence.
‘I know, but we’re struggling to find an experienced SIO who isn’t already bogged down in investigations. I’ve spoken with Steph Tanner and she’s signed off on it.’
A lack of evidence and witnesses don’t help the progression of the investigation but as the case progresses slowly a convoluted picture begins to emerge. Stirling’s personal life is not running smoothly either, with someone from his past drawn into the investigation and a new relationship hitting a rocky patch.
In a letter to the reader at the end of the book, the author explains that as a professional investigator he’s often frustrated by the misrepresentation of police investigations in fiction. I’m sure this story is as realistic as it gets, with the limited resources and internal politics police forces have to deal with. However, I did feel the narrative needed a run through with an editor to tighten it up. It’s a complex plot which could have been more exciting and fast paced, but was a little too detailed and drawn out in places. There were quite a few unnecessary anecdotes from various characters which also slowed the story down for me. Sometimes, for a fiction book, less is more.
Having said that, the foundation and the bones of the story are very good and the fact the author knows his stuff inside out lends a huge amount of authenticity. Doug Stirling would make a great protagonist for a series and I enjoyed the main characters. The denouement came as a surprise, which is always a good thing.
I chose to read and review The Last Thread based on a copy of the book supplied by the author.
Ray Britain’s debut novel ‘The Last Thread’ was published 17th September 2017. Following a highly successful career in policing it should be no surprise that it is a complex crime investigation story.
As a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) Ray led many investigations, some of which engaged specialist, national capabilities. For fifteen years he was also a Hostage & Suicide Intervention Negotiator responding to hostage situations, many firearms incidents and numerous suicide interventions, not all of which ended happily.
In ‘The Last Thread’ Ray’s real-world experience puts the reader in the driving seat of a complex investigation with all the uncertainties and realities of modern crime investigation.
Ray’s interests include: mountain walking, rugby, skiing, Dad dancing, reading, and sailing.