From Publishers Weekly
Rough dialogue, intricate plotting and cascading suspense mark British author Lawrence's excellent debut, in which four bodies are found sitting almost casually in a circle in a nondescript London flat: three are suicides, the fourth is stabbed through the heart. Det. Sgt. Stella Mooney, an intense, troubled and dogged investigator, learns that small-time crook Jimmy Stone, the murder victim, was an active trader in "murderabilia," such as a scene-of-crime photo of the Manson killings and O.J. Simpson's autograph. Jimmy's story is one of many subplots that lend depth to this absorbing police procedural. The trail leads Stella into contact with a crime family and into delicate turf wars and accommodations within her own organization as well as with other agencies whose aims are not always the same. The enslavement and prostitution of East European women is yet another element the author uses to telling effect, as is the crisis in Stella's relations with her housemate provoked by a persistent journalist. Lawrence smoothly shifts focus, allowing the reader to follow Stella, a prostitute, the journalist and a chillingly efficient and ruthless Serbian assassin, among other distinctive characters. Readers are sure to want to see more of the memorable Stella in further adventures.
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*Starred Review* The titular clique of elderly suicides may be the gentlest thing that Detective Stella Mooney encounters in the whole of this riveting thriller. Trouble is, one of them wasn't invited to the party: a dealer in morbid "murderabilia" whose life has been snipped short with surgical precision by a hand more skilled than his own. This is Ivo Perec, formerly of the Bosnian killing fields and now showing the London hooligans a thing or two about brutality as he restlessly awaits employment in some imminent bloodbath obscurely linked to the brisk refugee flesh trade. Tenacious Mooney takes blows from man and beast, brushing off the scars and tinnitus, but not the psychological toll of the daily descent into a city so forlorn that the grisly predations of a cold-blooded Serbian mass-murderer are remarkable only for their efficiency. Lawrence's spare, keen-edged prose ploughs with irresistible force through this grim hellscape, churning up shards of dark poetry in its wake. From the spontaneous dialogue to the clear, convincing procedure and the menacing atmosphere, there isn't a single false note in this striking debut, which earns pride of place deep in the darkest circle of noir, down past Ian Rankin and John Harvey to the shadows where lurk Ken Bruen and Derek Raymond. David WrightCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved