Police detective Ben Westphall is burnt out and leading a quiet life in the North of Scotland. Things change when he is assigned to investigate the cold case of a UK national who disappeared in Eastern Europe under mysterious circumstances and who, despite being declared dead, has re-appeared, claiming to have been held for over a decade, various body parts having been harvested during that time. Westphall travels to Estonia, chasing leads and shadows that may lead to an international drugs and organ trafficking conspiracy.
Song of the Dead isn’t my usual read, but I really did want to change things up and whilst my day job usually steers me away from crime fiction there was something that drew me to this book and I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone for it.
It’s a great premise, really quite creepy and more than a little gruesome at times. It’s a great mix though of thriller pacing with steady investigation and lots of interconnection between characters and location. The thing that made it really accessible for me though was the slight supernatural edge, for a straight laced plot there were pockets of story that almost felt like tiny interludes. I really enjoyed this extra piece of parallel puzzle and it gave the plot a sometimes needed change of tone.
The characters were very by the book and whilst there was nothing particularly outstanding about DI Westphall he was an enjoyable character to read. Just the right amount of jaded combined with an interesting back story which gave him kudos, but he was really the only star of the show. The supporting cast were pretty one dimensional and whilst they served a purpose I just felt that the character development would have been better focused on bringing the most out of one or two others than the extended cast that I struggled to remember at times
There was a great deal I didn’t see coming and I really liked how it kept me on my toes throughout. It was a steady read with a driven plot which thankfully stopped just short of feeling like it was becoming ridiculous which I was very relieved about as I think one more demise would have just pushed it over the edge. Ultimately this is a really enjoyable read, particularly if you want a little oddity in your crime thriller. I’m not sure it’s a series I would come back to but this is well worth the read if you’re after a change of genre.
With thanks to Netgalley and Hodder and Staunton for the review copy, whilst I received a copy for free all opinions are my own.