Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Review and Extract - Perfect Remains by Helen Fields

Over the past few weeks I seem to have found myself reading a lot of crime/detective novels and can now introduce you to the latest one I’ve read - Perfect Remains by Helen Fields.  As the first book in a new series, I thought that this was one of the most cleverly constructed novels of its genre that I have read to date, and it seemed to get the series off to a great start!

Having recently left a job with Interpol, it’s only Luc Callanach’s first day as a D.I. with Police Scotland, but he’s not in for an easy start as he receives a call to explain that someone has met a rather unpleasant end on a remote Highland mountain in the Caimgorms. Despite not being his jurisdiction, there’s a chance that it could be missing Edinburgh lawyer Elaine Buxton so he throws both himself and his team into the investigation, receiving some criticism for doing so. Although it’s too early to know it at this stage, they’re up against a malicious, devious criminal and as more people go missing, time is of the essence in discovering exactly who is responsible. 

Throughout this novel, which is told from the viewpoint of both the criminal and D.I. Luc Callanach, Helen Fields introduces us to a number of outstanding characters who I’m really looking forward to watching grow and develop as the series progresses. D.I. Luc Callanach was one of my favourite characters and I found myself really looking forward to his chapters. I was particularly interested in reading of his new friendship with his colleague D.I. Ava Turner and I’m really excited to see where this will go in future novels.

From reading this novel, one thing that’s very clear to see was how much time Helen must have spent thinking this novel through for it to be as successful as it was. I spent the entirety of the novel genuinely not seeing how the detectives were going to crack the case as the criminal was extremely calculating and very careful to cover his tracks. One thing that I feel must be said is that this book is not for the faint-hearted, there were scenes told from the criminal’s chapters that I found to be quite gruesome and often struggled with to the point where I just had to skim read them. That said, for me the police investigation seemed incredibly realistic and something that I often felt like I was a part of, which certainly helped to make it a compelling read. 

Providing a brilliant introduction into the world of D.I. Luc Callanach, Perfect Remains proved to be an incredibly intense read. After what was altogether quite a promising start, I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series and seeing where it will next take us - I’m sure we’ll be in for another dramatic ride!


DC Barnes walked in, which Ava took as either a cue or an excuse to leave, Callanach wasn’t sure which. Barnes’ face was alight with a mixture of concern and adrenaline. ‘We think we’ve got another one, sir. A woman’s been missing since last night. Her assistant called it in.’
‘What’s the link with Elaine Buxton?’ Callanach asked.
‘The woman left work as usual but there’s no sign of her entering her home. Similar age to Elaine, single, no children. Totally out of character for her to go off the grid. Missing person report’s available in the briefing room and we’re bringing in the assistant for more information. We’ve got units at the woman’s home and are making the usual enquiries with colleagues.’
The briefing room was buzzing. Callanach took a seat at the back as he prepared to listen to what information had been gathered, notebook ready on his lap. Ava Turner opened the door and looked in quizzically. He beckoned her in.
‘I was coming to collect my extra bodies,’ she whispered. ‘What’s going on?’
‘Another woman is missing,’ he said.
‘Mind if I stay and listen?’ she asked. He shook his head and she took the seat next to his.
Jayne Magee’s face appeared on the screen. There was a  slightly suppressed intake of breath from everyone watching. Callanach didn’t know why it was so shocking, only that the surprise came from what was around her neck in the photo. The sergeant who’d taken the missing person report began to speak.
‘This is the Reverend Jayne Magee, thirty-six years of age, Caucasian, Scottish national. Her administrative assistant, Ann Burt, called in her disappearance when Jayne failed to arrive for a meeting this morning at the Cathedral Church of St Mary in Palmerston Place, part of the Scottish Episcopal Church. What rang alarm bells is that she appears not to have been home last night. Her assistant says Jayne had no plans. The Reverend had told Ann she was looking forward to a quiet night in with a curry. Her only vice, apparently. When she failed to attend the meeting this morning and couldn’t be reached by phone, the assistant went to her house. She has a key and let herself in. There was no sign of Jayne. No bag or coat and in the fridge the curry they’d talked about was sitting untouched. Ann had emailed her at seven yesterday evening, passing on a query and got no response. Usually, the last thing the Reverend does every night is to check emails and respond to them. Ann Burt said she was curious about it last night but assumed some­thing had come up, either illness or an unexpected visitor, and didn’t pursue it with a phone call.’
‘Where’s her home?’ Lively shouted from the far side of the room. 
The sergeant shifted images and the screen flashed up a map of the city. The cathedral was marked with a blue cross and a red dot denoted what Callanach presumed was the home.
‘She lives in a detached house in Ravelston Park, across the river from the cathedral and roughly north-west. She always walks to and from work, even in the worst weather, and we’re told she was on foot yesterday.’
‘So, she left St Mary’s at?’ Callanach asked. 
‘Around seven p.m. She’d been there for choral evensong, stayed to chat with a few people then gone home. There’s no sign of a break-in or a struggle, nothing missing that the assis­tant can identify.’
‘I see the similarities,’ Callanach said, ‘but do you not have anything more tangible that connects this to Elaine Buxton?’
‘Only this.’ A new photo filled the screen. As one, the people in the room leaned forward to make out what they were looking at amidst the green tangle in the picture. ‘Here, at the very bottom, is where Jayne Magee’s mobile phone was found. Just inside her front garden, at the roots of a bush. Whether she dropped it or someone else discarded it, we don’t know. It’s been sent off for prints and data.’