I picked up this book in Poundlound, as I’m a big spender. Alas, it was £1.50, as hardly anything is £1 in Poundland anymore! I’m currently plotting next book, and I’ve set myself a deadline to submit the first draft to the editor by the end of January 2024. This book will have a heavier policy procedural aspect, and so I’m reading as many detective books as I can get my hands on. I was like a moth to a light when I browsed the cover of The Body in the Shadows.
The body of a young man is found under a motorway flyover. The body is identified as the man who had an altercation with DCI Gillard’s pregnant wife in a shopping centre a few days earlier. Whilst the team hunt down leads to who murdered the man, Gillard’s informant tips him off about a potential robbery in the build up to Christmas worth half a billion pounds. They discover that the shopping centre altercation, the murder, and the robbery are all connected.
As a writer, what did I learn from this book? Well, the police procedural aspect was gold dust to me. This is the 11th book in the DCI Gillard series, and Nick Louth is clearly an expert in his genre. The attention to detail in the forensics, crime scenes and investigation processes was immense. At the same time, he didn’t labour the technical aspects (some crime novels feel like a text manual at times).
The novel was cleverly plotted. Nick Louth pieced together the sub-plots with the same meticulous attention DCI Gillard would give to his investigations.
As a writer, what would I have done differently? I wasn’t blown away by DCI Gillard. This is a common theme I’m finding with detective novels. There are so many series out that there it is incredibly difficult to create an original character without resorting to stereotype. Gillard managed to avoid all of the stereotypes but as a result none of his character traits stood out. He was such a nice, genuine, considerate and competent detective that I found him kind of forgettable.
This is very subjective, but I struggle with books that focus on police procedural, because they become more of a mystery than a thriller. I can’t blame the author for this, because this is the chosen genre! My mission is to right a book that combines both.
In summary though, this book was fantastically helpful for me. I’m going to ensure I read some of Nick’s earlier books.