*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc Deadly Dance – Book 1 of the D.I. David Vogel by Hilary Bonner

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I was drawn to this one because it is set in Bristol and the fact it is the first in a series, so I requested the arc.

The discovery of the partially-clothed body of a teenage girl in the heart of Bristol’s red light district indicates a tragic yet familiar scenario. But this marks the start of a baffling murder investigation where nothing is as it first appears. Fourteen-year-old Melanie Cooke told her mother she was visiting a school friend. Who was she really going to meet? Detective Inspector David Vogel is led towards three very different principal protagonists, each of whom grows increasingly chilling. But are they what they seem? And is any one of them capable of murder? A darkly complex secret lies behind Melanie’s death – and its ultimate revelation will shock Vogel and his team to the core.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure whether I’d done the right thing in requesting this murder mystery thriller. There are four narrators throughout this tense thriller – D.I. Vogel’s point of view, which is in third person and three first-person viewpoints, who are three tormented young men who are struggling to fit into society – Leo, Al and Saul. As we keep returning to their ongoing battles to come to terms with their impulses, I found myself feeling some sympathy with the crippling loneliness that is evident within all three of them.

By comparison, I found David’s character rather pallid – he isn’t exactly Mr Charisma anyway, but while it becomes increasingly imperative that he solves the mystery, I was tempted to skim his scenes at home with his wife. The third person viewpoint simply doesn’t have the punch and immediacy of the three antagonists – I’m assuming this device is a deliberate ploy, but I don’t think it is wholly successful. It seems to me that one of the major tasks of a first book is to establish the protagonist as a strong, sympathetic character, even if he isn’t completely likeable and I’m not sure that Bonner has ticked that box with this book.

Where she triumphantly succeeds however, is in delivering a gripping page-turner. For as the story progresses, each of these three characters are increasingly mired in a mess of their own making. I was watching each of them begin to unravel and there was no question of my putting the book down until I discovered who did what to whom. The gathering tension as the stakes are steadily raised and the handling of the denouement and resulting fallout is beautifully handled. This book is recommended for those who like their police procedural thrillers tense and gritty. While I obtained the arc of Deadly Dance from the publisher via NetGalley, this has in no way influenced my unbiased review
8/10

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10 responses »

  1. I always like the way you present reviews…detailed and so the reader will have a clear “feel” whether he/she would like to read it or not. See, some books start bleh and boring but picks up in the middle while some starts with big bang and ends with a flop. Reviews, therefore, are helpful in saving one time.

    • Thank you for your kind comments regarding my reviews – it’s always a help to know if I’ve achieved my aim of helping the reader know if the book will be for them. I’m delighted that you took the time and trouble to let me know they do:). Thank you, Marisse!

  2. Darn it. My comment disappeared. LOL Thanks for your wonderful review. At first I was thinking this wasn’t for me. Now I’m thinking it would be worth the read:)

  3. I’m glad this one turned out well for you in the end!!!! I hate it when I second guess my decision after starting an ARC!!! I always feel a huge sense of responsibility and obligation for ARCs!

    This one sounds great and tense and I like the description of it being twisty and gripping!

    • Yes – I know what you mean. It’s why I always try to be fair, yet honest. Fortunately, I very rarely have to DNF a book, as I’m now quite good at spotting those I wouldn’t enjoy.

      And yes – this one is very twisty:))

  4. The FIRST book in the series? WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH SARAH?!
    On a more serious note, I can see why you didn’t find the main character so appealing. I like books where multiple characters get their POV presented, but I dislike mixing 1st and 3rd. It always feels like the author wasn’t able to get into the head of the 3rd person POV character and is quite jarring.

    • Ha ha ha! It was slightly surreal starting a series right at the beginning. There are books where I am quite happy with 1st and 3rd viewpoints, but this one felt a bit odd… in fairness there is a solid reason why that is that case and in the end it does work.

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