by Quintin Jardine
There are detectives — and there are detectives.
The classic detectives of noir novels tend to be of the grumpy, rumpled, depressive, introspective and alcoholic persuasion.
And then there are the superstar detectives who are suave, tall, handsome and fearless.
Like Detective Chief Superintendent (DCS) Bob Skinner, 43, “Britain’s toughest detective,” tough enough to fight crime full-time in Edinburgh and gentle enough to raise a daughter, single-handedly, outside the city.
This story ignites with the discovery of the decapitated head of a rising young advocate, Michael Mortimer. Skinner arrives on scene wearing “a long leather coat, black and Satanic, over a grey suit.”
Mortimer’s body is soon joined in the morgue by others who appear to have been killed by the same person: three seemingly random victims and Mortimer’s fiancé, Rachel Jameson, also an advocate. She had just won a case and was either pushed or threw herself in front of a train supposedly out of grief for Mortimer. Skinner’s money is on murder rather than suicide.
Skinner’s investigation takes one twisted turn after another. But every time the clue leads him to the perfect suspect, his policeman’s instinct tells him the real killer is still in the wind. The cases quickly escalate from a serial killer to an increasingly complicated case involving international politics.
Set in 1993, this is the first book in the Bob Skinner series. While it’s hard to imagine how author Quintin Jardin could top saving the world from World War III as suggested in Skinner’s Rules, he has added 30 novels to this series as of 2019.
If your tastes run to thrillers and a race to save the world from imminent destruction, you’ll like Skinner’s Rules. It’s entertaining and suspenseful and manages to hold on to credibility as the story gets bigger and wilder with every chapter.
You won’t find any introspection on Skinner’s part, nor any meditations on the human condition or social policy. But sometimes escapist entertainment is all that’s required.