I’ve only read one of the Harry Virdee series by A A Dhand (Girl Zero) but I enjoyed it, and I enjoyed this one even more. We are back in Bradford, and this starts with a punch: a woman strung up with barbed wire in a bookshop in the centre of the city – and a gruesome post-mortem to follow. It becomes clear very rapidly that this is personal to Virdee, although it’s difficult to gauge why it’s happening, and therefore who is behind it. Soon one murder has turned into several, and we are knee-deep in a complex and emotional police procedural.
What elevates this one is the exploration of the family and religious dynamics in Harry’s own family – he is a Sikh married to a Muslim, and has been ostracised by his father as a result; but his father ends up in the hospital with an illness….which brings him into contact with the daughter-in-law he has pledged to despise. It’s a sub-plot that resonates with the main serial killer narrative, and adds depth and strength to the characterisation.
As ever, Harry is unafraid to bend the rules to protect his family – and to get a result, and the plot picks up pace (if slight far-fetchedness) to that effect as the book goes on. That makes it a genuinely suspenseful and thrilling climax to a well-above-average crime novel. It’s a series I’m going to keep going with, and which I recommend highly.
BUY IT NOW: City of Sinners (D.I. Harry Virdee)