All My Enemies by Barry Maitland is the third book in the popular Brock and Kolla series. From my research it seems that these books were originally released overseas in the late 90’s, now in 2012 the good people at Allen & Unwin have brought them to our shores, to be included in the Get Reading- A Book You Can’t Put Down promotion.
When I received my copy of All My Enemies from the publisher to read I was expecting just another crime novel, however I have to say that within the first couple of pages I was blown away by how good it was. Yes, it is an English police procedural novel like so many others of it type, but there is a reason why they are so popular both in popular fiction and on the small screen. They tend to be well thought out and intelligent with compelling characters and believable storylines. This is no exception.
As it happens the thing that got me hooked initially was not the discovery of the body in the first chapter- although that obviously sustained the story to the end. It was the word-puzzle in the first paragraph. (I managed 90 words out of the target 130- and I got the 12 letter word before it was revealed later in the book too!) Once the body is found the action picks up at a quick march and doesn’t really let up until the end. Discounting the time I spent with the word-puzzle, I read this book in a single afternoon. Once I started, I simply couldn’t put it down.
I do think that this will suit those who like their crime fiction a little dark but not too grisly. The description of the crimes are realistic enough that the reader realises that something dreadful has happened to these women, but not so graphic and gratuitous as to be overly morbid. We follow the steady process of the team at the Serious Crime Division of New Scotland Yard as the start with a the murder of a young woman viciously stabbed to death in her home by a person or persons unknown who have left little more than a couple of smudged footprints as to their identity; then little bit by little bit constructing a portrait of a particularly nasty serial killer and closing the net around them. There are enough twists, turns and red herrings to keep you guessing until the very end.
When the final dénouement came I was surprised by the outcome- my suspicions had been pointing in a different direction entirely! However, it still made sense and fit with the facts as we knew them. So many crime novels have a final twist at the end just for the sake of it and the perpetrator comes so far from left field that they are unbelievable. Not so with All My Enemies, as I say I didn’t see it coming but I was kicking myself that I didn’t, it should have been obvious! It also looks at the why of the killing which actually made me a little sad on behalf of the killer.
Overall this is an intelligent, well written and excellent example of the crime thriller genre. I have no problem recommending this to anyone.