I’ve spent a lot of my commute time this week on a dark platform in the rain, which turned out to be the best place to read this incredible thriller by Emma Kavanagh.
A gunman has been seen stalking outside the ward of a hospital. No one has seen his face and the police have yet to catch him. The story revolves around three major characters; Aden, an armed police officer; Charlie, a reporter; Imogen, a hospital psychologist and, unnamed, the shooter. It begins moments after he has open fired in a hospital lobby, the characters somehow connected, before we go back six days and try and figure out what on earth has happened.
One of the things I particularly enjoyed was reading a book based in the UK that brought up the subject of gun crime and armed police. I’ve read a few US police dramas and guns are so embedded within the stories that they’re barely even a shock, they’re just there. Yet this story, set in South Wales, makes it clear that here are serious ramifications to gun use in police forces. Aden, one of the main characters and himself an armed policeman, remembers one fateful night telling a newbie that they had never had a shooting on his police force. After the shooting that sets off a major chain of events in the story the officers involved are stripped of their duties pending investigation, given a psychologist and sent on extra training. Emma Kavanagh, a former police psychologist herself, doesn’t sugar coat or romanticise any part of this process, and I think that’s really important.
I really cannot stress how great this book was. Despite every fourth chapter being narrated by the gunman, we don’t find out who he is until the final moments, and really nothing is as it seems. The characters are so carefully connected and the story so well plotted that they make sense as an ensemble but are string enough that I cared about all of them individually. It’s a community drama, told without romanticising violence or anger, that is wholly believable and ultimately thrilling.