The One About My New Favourite Crime Novel Series: Perfect Remains by Helen Sarah Fields | Book Review

I have not read a thriller in a looooong while, so I am very excited to share that I recently started a new thriller series!

I first stumbled across this series by Helen Sarah Fields when NetGalley kindly granted my request to read the latest book in the series. It was only when I began reading the book that I realised the book is the 7th book in an on-going series. To be honest, at the time I was tempted to put the book aside and begin reading the book from the very start. However, I was far too intrigued by the synopsis that I decided to dive straight in.

Perfect Remains

by Helen Sarah Fields 

Edition: Paperback, 374 pages

ISBN: 0008181551 (ISBN13: 9780008181550)

Published January 26th 2017 by Avon

Series: D.I. Callanach #1

On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.

In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness…

Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.

It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

Fans of Angela Marson, Mark Billingham and M. J. Aldridge will be gripped by this chilling journey into the mind of a troubled killer. 

Perfect Remains follows newcomer Detective Inspector Luc Callanach at the Scotland Yard. He appears quite stoic and seems to be there for one thing, and one thing only–to solve cases. When a missing person’s case turns into an ongoing murder investigation, Callanach decides to use this opportunity to prove to his colleagues that he is not one to mess with. It’s not long before the mystery surrounding the murders escalate, and missing person report lands on their desks, it becomes a race against time to find the perpetrator before a dead body is found.

Wow. This book was a rollercoaster ride. It was fast-paced, suspenseful and had me gripped from the very first chapter. The very first chapter starts off in the presence of an unidentified and unfamiliar man, who has kidnapped a lady against her own will. This book is more of a crime novel/police procedural than a mystery– I would even classify this as a psychological thriller. The scene set is gruesome and almost harrowing, and I knew then and there that I would be spending the rest of the day with this book. The author’s ability to paint a detailed picture of the horrifying scene is almost too uncomfortable to keep reading at times. The author definitely does not hold back from describing the gore that other crime novels I’ve read often stray away from going into as much depth as Helen Fields does.

I think what’s particularly different about this police-procedural crime thriller is that from the very first chapter, we learn that killer isn’t killing the victim he has abducted– plot twist! Readers find this out by the end of the first chapter, and one might think that this revelation very earlier on would take away from the suspense or intrigued for the rest of the book. However, the author manages to keep things interesting by volleying the perspectives between D.I Luc and the perpetrator. By creating two different POVs (Point of View), the reader is given a front row seat of the killer’s sick and twisted doings as well as an unobstructed view of Luc and his team’s plan to solve the case and catch the monster. Readers are treated to a front row view of an fierce game of cat and mouse– and it is intense.

The plot is solid. It’s fast-paced and ensures that readers are glued to the storyline with it’s rapid switch in POVs and the focus on the main storyline without introducing any unnecessary minor subplots. That being said, there was another case revolving around newborn babies which was being investigated alongside the main plot, and then solved about halfway into the book– it was interesting regardless and gave the secondary characters some of the spotlight. I loved how the killer always seems like he is one step ahead of the police, and I was almost holding my breath every time the police unravel a clue or come close to catching him. I think the author’s writing style really compliments the genre of this book. In thrillers or crime novels, I prefer lots and lots details– the more, the merrier. I think in order to capture the crime and the suspense of a novel of this genre, it’s important to be as descriptive as possible– and Helen Field’s is great at it. She is so good at describing the crime scene, the killer’s sick acts of torture, and the little details throughout the book that might seem insignificant but add so much to the reading experience of a crime novel.

The characters are also really well written. My first impressions of Luc were that he is very stoic and curt, his first day on the job proved that he was there to work and not to play “Mr Nice Guy” to any of his colleagues, which I respect. He’s a pretty typical detective character, mysterious all the same, but I understand that this is only the first book in the series so I hope we get to see more of his personality outside of the synonyms of “standoffish”. In addition to Luc, another character that seems to be a recurring one is Ava. She is also a detective (holding a more senior position than Luc, correct me if I’m wrong), and it’s immediately clear that she is highly respected in the field. She’s got a knack for wit, and was easily able to crack through Luc’s hard cold exterior. Ava is dedicated and passionate about her job, and I truly hope to see her occupy a bigger role in the next books in the series. There also seems to be hints of a possible relationship outside of just being work buddies, but that could also just be me reading too far into it. I would not be mad if they do cross that line, I do love mixing business with pleasure (*wink wink*).

As for the perpetrator, he was written so well I had the creeps from the very first chapter. He is everything you would expect from a stereotypical killer– he is arrogant, lack of remorse, and psychopathic. Not only is he creepy when he’s torturing with his victims, but there also seems to be sense of foreboding that follows him that makes it so even if he isn’t stalking or killing, you feel like he’s going to act impulsively or dangerous at any minute. The character is part of what keeps the suspense up throughout the book. I only wish that we got to see more of the aftermath of the crime, and a deeper understanding of why the killer acted the way he did.

If the next few books are just as good as this one in characters, plot and murders then Helen Fields will certainly have a gem in her hands. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who is looking for a close to perfect police procedural/crime thriller series that can have the potential to keep you up at night without the need for caffeine.

4. 5 stars.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Have you read Perfect Remains by Helen Sarah Fields or any of her other books?

Let me know in the comments below!

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